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Tony Borton - Alison Krauss and Union Station: "Lonely Runs Both Ways"

01/01/2005 - Since the tender age of sixteen, Alison Krauss has been making bluegrass records. Over the years, we have watched and listened as she grew up before us. Now we find Alison and her band churning out albums like a bluegrass juggernaut, winning accolades and new converts along the way as they lay the musical landscape to waste. While shifting gears and jamming the pedal down on her way to world dominance, Alison has managed to gradually lead us away from the hardcore, traditional bluegrass of her youth to a more contemporary sound laced with country, folk, and sometimes jazz. She is stretching the boundaries of what we consider bluegrass without disenchanting or alienating us. Her achingly beautiful, ethereal voice and the impeccable musicianship of she and her band are what makes this possible.

The sheer ability of Alison and her bandmates is what sets "Lonely Runs Both Ways" apart from the vast majority of music being made these days. Each member of the band turns in a virtuoso performance on every song. It's not fair to point out any one member, but Jerry Douglas is as brilliant as ever on the dobro, and his work is worth the price of the disc alone.

"Lonely Runs Both Ways" is a beautiful, refreshing breath of sonic purity. There are frequent passages of breathtakingly perfect gentility, and several reminders of the sheer bluegrass power Union Station can muster if need be. In all, AKUS have created another in a string of extremely strong albums. This is what great sounds like. If you're unsure, buy it and listen to the last track, "A Living Prayer." This may be the best example I've ever heard of Alison's unreal ability to take a song into heavenly realms.

Alison Krauss is 33 years old, and has already won about every award there is to win and has sold at least a gazillion records. She has nothing left to prove, and this freedom has served her well as a musician. It will be exciting to hear what she and Union Station do in the coming years. "Lonely Runs Both Ways" points the way to the future, and that sounds pretty good to me.

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