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Album Review: Alison Krauss and Union Station – Paper Airplane

4 min read

Country music legend Alison Krauss has partnered up yet again with her trusty long time folk quartet Union Station and this month the collective present to us their latest record, Paper Airplane.

Fusing American bluegrass and folk, Paper Airplane sees the five piece joining forces for the first time in seven years and offering to us another masterpiece that will no doubt continue to drive the interest of bluegrass throughout the world as they have been responsible for doing for well over a decade.

AlisonKraussPaperAirplaneKrauss, who at only 39 years of age has racked up an astonishing 26 Grammy wins, giving her the title of the most awarded female artist in Grammy history, has been a favorite within the country music genre for going on 30 years. Her last record Raising Sand, a 2007 collaboration with Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant, allowed Krauss to reach new commercial heights and garnished the singer with an astounding number of accolades as well as prospects of a second project with the Led Zeppelin vocalist.

It’s been a long time since we heard anything new from Alison Krauss with the Union Station. In fact it was 2004’s Lonely Runs Both Ways that the two combined forces to create the collectives sixth record together and earn Krauss and co three Grammy Awards. The long awaited follow up has now thankfully found its way to our doorstep and by its first listen the collection becomes an instant staple in not only the lengthy career of one of musics finest acts but also to country music as a whole.

The gentle picking of a guitar starts the record off before Krauss enters with a voice that has made her one of Country’s most cherished and celebrated artists. Singing gently around the bands savvy yet casually placed backing of the records first single, Paper Airplane, she erupts into the chorus with belting enthusiasm. The track is an opening highlight that ticks all the right boxes for what memorable folk balladry is all about.

Following Krauss’ delicate album opener, ten time Grammy award winner and the bands front-man Dan Tyminski takes the reigns and delivers the quick paced Dust Bowl Children. The track automatically took me back to the first time I seen the film, Oh Brother Where Art Thou. In fact, it was Tyminski who provided the overdubbed vocals for George Clooney’s character in the movie for the soundtracks fictitious band, Soggy Bottom Boys. The delivery of the number seems almost effortless with Ron Block’s masterful banjo skills being shown off throughout the track alongside Tyminski’s perfectly positioned vocals which make the song an exceptional listen.

Further down the collection Tyminski offers up another similar styled piece of bluegrass perfection in the form of On The Outside Looking In, which proves to be one of the records peak moments, as well as the string heavy balladry of Bonita and Bill Butler, which begins the records cooling down.

Sinking Stone dips a little and proves to be a slightly less memorable addition than its accompanying numbers, tending to be a little dreary. Saying this however the track still holds on to the fundamental core of the records vibe, though by the end has the feeling of holding less purpose than the rest of the albums track-listing.

A few other notables on the collection include the mid tempo and vocally whispery Lay My Burden Down that Krauss sings with pure and genuine conviction as well as superb cover versions of Jackson Browne’s My Opening Farewell which ends the record and Richard Thompson’s Dimming Of The Day, both which are given a great deal of justice and a new lease on life.

Krauss and co’s performance on this new record is nothing short of stellar. Each song compliments the next and weather it’s Krauss cool and genre defining vocals or one of her fellow band members who take the honor of fronting the track, we are guaranteed a superb delivery of country greatness.

Paper Airplane marks Krauss’ twelfth and sixth outing with Union Station and the record really does tick all the boxes and more as it quickly positions itself as a welcome addition to any country aficionados addition.

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