Album Review: Alison Krauss – Windy City

There are a few artists on this planet that will release something new, and more often than not get it spot on. Alison Krauss is one of those. Whether it be with the phenomenal Union Station, collaborations like that with Robert Plant – or solo, which this new record is (her first for over 15 years) – you know instantly the quality will be there. A comforting position to be in as you play the first track.

The territory here is all fairly familiar, but that for me adds to the comfort of this record. There is a conscious move in to more country ballads and away from the straight down the line bluegrass sound she’s been so successful with – however there are without doubt hints of it in here.

The record is made up of covers from some of the genres biggest names – Brenda Lee and Willie Nelson to name just two. However – unless you are an aficionado of country music, there won’t be a great deal that will seem too familiar here, with many of these tracks 40+ years old. A clever tactic maybe to bring an element of originality to proceedings. For someone like me who appreciates country music, but doesn’t have an extensive knowledge – the lack of any real bonafide classics here enhances the experience for me. Certainly on a couple of the tracks it’s inspired me to seek out the original.

Her voice as usual is the standout feature – that crystal clear warble that has graced our airwaves for a quarter of a century now has both a powerful yet ultimately calming effect, and along with the expected fine instrumentation from a host of names performing on this record, and the expertise of producer Buddy Cannon – the quality remains high throughout.

A wistfulness takes hold over much of the record – the couple of times it does move on at a bit more of a pace is the excellent ‘It’s Goodbye and So-Long to You’ and ‘Poison Love’. ‘All Alone Am I’ is awash with strings and an excellent steel guitar solo and ‘River in the Rain’ – a beautiful piano ballad that suits her vocal superbly.

At 35 minutes – it’s on the short side, but within that are 10 well picked songs that provide fans of Krauss a solid new album to embrace – and while I’m not sure she’ll win a whole host of new fans with this, staying so close to the comfortable as it does – few can doubt her sheer talent and staggering vocal ability. That in itself will carry most things!

An enjoyable effort.

More info at: https://alisonkrauss.com/

Review by Phil Daniels