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ALISON KRAUSS AND UNION STATION, “Lonely Runs Both Ways” (Rounder)

It’s understandable to focus on Alison Krauss when discussing the new Alison Krauss and Union Station album “Lonely Runs Both Ways”—or any other AKUS album, for that matter. Understandable, but unfair—and inaccurate.

Unlike Krauss’ solo albums, AKUS albums, while necessarily weighted in Krauss’s favor, are truly band albums. Hence, this one includes first-rate bluegrass vocal vehicles for guitarist Dan Tyminski (of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”’s “Man of Constant Sorrow” fame), most notably “This Sad Song,” which Krauss herself co-wrote with former AKUS banjoist Alison Brown back when she was 17, Del McCoury’s “Rain Please Go Away” and “Woody Guthrie’s “Pastures of Plenty.” For their parts, guitarist/banjoist Ron Block stars on his own “I Don’t Have to Live This Way” and dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas shines on his instrumental “Unionhouse Branch.”

But understandably, it all comes back to Krauss. No one in contemporary music has her voice, and few if any take so much care in choosing songs for it. These songs, like frequent songwriter contributor Robert Lee Castleman’s “Restless,” always serve to welcome the listener into her special orbit. On songs like Castleman’s “Crazy as Me” and the closing gospel “A Living Prayer” (written by Block), Krauss has used “Lonely Runs Both Ways” to go even further in revealing her soul. / Issue 46 - September 8502
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