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Live – Alison Krauss and Union Station

Rounder Records 11661-0515-2
Most of Alison Krauss’s recent studio releases have trundled in the domain
of hushed melancholy schmaltz. Not the kind of schmaltz some thought Krauss
would end up performing, as many envisioned her as the next Dolly Parton,
but still schmaltz nevertheless — a problem which reached a frenzied,
excessively maudlin pitch on Forget About It and New Favorite.
What many fans perceive as Krauss’s main problem concerns her complete
denial of the raucous bluegrass that she preformed and recorded in the early
stages of her career. Artistic growth might explain the change. However,
listen to an interview with Krauss sometime. Her bawdy humor potentially
obstructs the truth of her "hushed" and "mellow" side, and reveals an
utterly boisterous performer playing the seductress solely for album
The two CD release Live could be considered an
Internet-ready/website-posted biography of Alison Krauss for the uninitiated
or those exclusively sold on her recent acoustic-pop meanderings. Krauss
rocks with igneous acoustic boisterousness as she growls, yes growls,
on "Oh, Atlanta." The Monroe part appears fairly flaccid as she impeccably
tackles the Louvin Brothers’ classic "Tiny Broken Heart." She then takes the
backseat on the proverbial newgrass and instrumental barnburners as on "We
Hide and Seek," and reveals her often overlooked violin acumen. Finally,
when those subdued James Tayloresque tracks surface, like "Let Me Touch You
For a While" or "New Favorite," they don’t sound quite so overwrought.
The crowd on Live supplies a decent barometer of Krauss’s charged
performance by following each mandolin chop with a "yeehaw" and clapping
every blues rock filigree on "Oh, Atlanta." Krauss and her bandmates offer
enough rambunctious moments to even offset the maximized florid "Baby, Now
that I’ve Found You." To employ an overused clichcall it "keeping the
audience on the edge of their seats", as Krauss pulls them on a 110 minute
musical system of ebbs and flows. Though as some might declare, it’s about
time people finally heard Krauss as thrilling, and not singing and
performing in an inexorable whisper.

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