Alison Krauss & Union Station, "Paper Airplane" (Rounder)
Even though Alison Krauss is known as an exactingly deliberate record maker, she had remained persistent about releasing new music every two or three years since her 1985 debut--until lately.
It's been seven years since the last Alison Krauss & Union Station album, and four since her Grammy-winning collaboration with Robert Plant on "Raising Sand."
So while certain constants continue on the new album, "Paper Airplane" _ her delicately lovely voice, her ability to find special songs, the intuitive interplay of her skilled band _ it still sounds different than anything she's done. The band plays as little (and as beautifully) as possible, providing a bed of feathery notes that focus attention on Krauss' dream-like tone.
Several songs open with a single instrument and vocal, whether it's guitarist Dan Tyminski behind Krauss on the title song and the stunning "Lay My Burden Down," banjoist Ron Block setting up a rolling run that pushes Tyminski's vocals on "Dustbowl Children," or dobroist Jerry Douglas' wonderfully melodic opening to "Sinking Stone." Throughout, each note seems necessary and right in its place.
In other words, "Paper Airplanes" finds one of contemporary music's most exemplary ensembles sounding both fresh and timeless _ and as good as acoustic music gets.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: "Dimming of the Day" is a cult classic by Richard Thompson, and Krauss' version achingly captures the subject's devastating depression and his yearning for an absent lover _ the only thing that brings him comfort.