This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 6/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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With a foot planted firmly in both the folk and bluegrass genres, the music on this latest release by Allison Kraus and Union Station should sufficiently satisfy the desires of each camp. However, the element that overshadows all else on this recording is simply the soulful and resplendent vocals of Allison Krauss. Her expressive, emotive singing is what elevates this recording to a higher plane, above the customary folk or bluegrass offering.
The leitmotif here is lost love, failed love, and unrequited love--just a smorgasbord of unfortunate coupling and uncoupling. Mix that theme with this talented group of musicians, add Krauss' voice, and this amalgam produces a steady pull on the heartstrings.
Beginning with the title cut "So Long, So Wrong," driven by Krauss' lead vocals and Ron Block's banjo licks, the oft-visited reflection on love lost begins with Krauss singing:
"I know I'll be lonesomeThe chorus finishes off that sentiment with:
That brings about a little fear
I know I'll be sad and I'll be blue
I have given the best of me
When I forgot to say to you
What you forgot to say to me
So long, so wrong..."
"...Did we take forever in vainThe litany of pain, hurt and redemption continue on with "Deeper Than Crying," "Find My Way Back To My Heart," and "Happiness."
Into the past
Did we think forever was really gonna last..."
"Deeper Than Crying" begins with:
"Leaving is the longest word I ever learnedThe pensive chorus:
In the time it takes to say it, the whole world has turned
If a heartbeat lasts a lifetime then I've lived before
'Cause I remember standing at this open door...
So I'll be the one to pull our tangled lives apart
I won't dodge the angry words that hide a broken heart
And my calm fare-thee-wells cannot obscure
That deep inside, my heart is also hurtin' sore"
"This path is not the one I'd choose to travelLosing touch with family, home and friends by taking the path of the "rambling life," the protagonist in "Finding My Way Back to My Heart" offers mixed regret:
Even as we watch what tied us unravel
And the tears fall like rain
Deeper than crying, the loving still remains..."
"...I thought at least we'd meet againNot coming with any sort of money-back or, more importantly, 'heart-back' guarantee, the yin and yang of love dominates "Happiness." It goes:
Since we have been the best of friends
And lovers to each other
Meet again and speak our minds
Force no issues, turn no blind eye
But it seems I missed you
By a coast and a song
When time gets so short
'So what?' turns to 'So long'..."
"...If a single star I see"Looking in the Eyes of Love" is a positive change-of-pace after a collection of bittersweet tunes. After "...searching for an answer in a world full of strangers...", fulfillment is embraced "now that I've found you I'm looking in the eyes of love."
Ever made a wish come true
It would bring you back to me
But the best my heart can do
Is to love again, I don't know when
Still it's worth all I fear,
the heartaches and the tears...
Love like a lesson learned
when we pass the point of no return
You can't always trust happiness
There in love's steady glow hides
the power to hurt us so
You can't always trust happiness."
The sweet spiritual "There Is A Reason" closes out the release. Again, it is Krauss' vocals that raise this cut above the ordinary.
If angels have voices, somewhere out there is at least one mute celestial being. Krauss has somehow borrowed a set of out-of-this-world pipes and let's hope, for our sake, she doesn't have to return them anytime soon.
Krauss on lead vocals, fiddle and viola, is assisted by Barry Bales on acoustic bass, electric upright bass and arco bass; Adam Steffey on mandolin and mandola; Ron Block on vocals, banjo and guitar; and Dan Tyminski on vocals and guitar.
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