Alison Krauss + Union Station - Lonely Runs Both Ways

Alison Krauss + Union Station
Lonely Runs Both Ways


First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2004, Volume 11, #12

Written by John Metzger


Superficially speaking, Alison Krauss + Union Station is in a rut. On its latest effort Lonely Runs Both Ways, the ensemble follows a nearly identical path as the one tread on its previous outing New Favorite, once again dipping into the catalogues of Robert Lee Castleman and Gillian Welch for sustenance in its quest to blur the line between bluegrass and country-tinged, adult contemporary pop. For fans who hate it when an artist strays from a script, this formulaic approach provides a tremendous amount of comfort, and while it initially might be a little troubling to those who desire a more aggressive and less predictable presentation, the manner in which Krauss and her stellar backing band pull it all together is truly a joy to behold. True, Castleman’s compositions, which largely fall somewhere in spirit between James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg, would sound sappy in lesser hands, but Krauss’ wistful and stunningly beautiful vocals, combined with the gentle touch of her accompanists, sets free songs like Crazy as Me, Restless, and Gravity, allowing them to circle and soar high above their ruminative whispers about life and love. Still, the real reason Lonely Runs Both Ways succeeds is that Union Station hasn’t lost sight of its rural roots — the rustic rumble of Woody Guthrie’s Pastures of Plenty; the plucky, banjo-spun romp through Del McCoury’s Rain Please Go Away; and the steaming, dobro-slathered instrumental Unionhouse Branch offer positive proof of this — and behind the glossy, radio-friendly sheen lies some exquisite instrumental interplay as well as a heartfelt emotional resonance, both of which were abandoned long ago by cookie-cutter, country counterfeits. Indeed, the collective’s two disparate personas — Union Station’s earthy grooves and Krauss’ tender, breathy vocals — inform one another, and taken in tandem, the ensemble is making some of the purest, yet most accessible mountain music available. In other words, if this is a rut, it’s one that cuts a wide swath through some rather scenic and lovely terrain. starstarstarstar


48th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Country Album

48th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal

48th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Country Instrumental Performance
Unionhouse Branch


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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2004 The Music Box