Record Review - 1 January 13 2005

Allison Krauss and Union Station have shaped themselves into one of the world’s premier bluegrass bands. Yet somehow they’ve also been able to transcend that label with ease. Listening to any of their albums is an aural banquet, showcasing how well the band has mastered the art of combining classic bluegrass twang with contemporary material, creating a unique sound unmatched by any other act. The newest release, Lonely Runs Both Ways, serves up another stunning assortment of musical tidbits, each as savory as the one before. It’s almost as if Krauss and Co. have found the perfect recipe and don’t need to experiment anymore. From Krauss’ angelic vocals to Jerry Douglas’ amazing Dobro licks, each song is a tour de force.

Nashville songwriter R.L. Castleman has found his singing muse in Krauss, who continues her musical relationship with him by performing four of his tunes. But the album also features fine material by newcomer Mindy Smith and John Scott Sherrill (“If I Didn’t Know Any Better”), former Krauss cohorts the Cox Family (“Borderline”), and even Krauss herself, who contributes a rare original tune with the melancholy “This Sad Song”.

The group has always been a democratic outfit, and members Dan Tyminski and Ron Block get their due vocal time as well. Tyminski is featured on three tracks, including Woody Guthrie’s powerful “Pastures of Plenty.” Block, who bears a striking resemblance to director Ron Howard (aka Opie Taylor), sings one song and contributes another for Krauss. Throw in a hot instrumental with Douglas on Dobro and Krauss on fiddle, and you have one fine album. Not bad for a bunch of hillbillies.