Alison Krauss and Union Station

A decade ago, the idea of a bluegrass artist finding mainstream success seemed as unlikely as another Bush winning the White House. But with the widespread acclaim accorded her double-platinum retrospective Now That I've Found You, and steering roles in mega-soundtracks Cold Mountain and O Brother, Where Art Thou, singer/fiddler Alison Krauss became a certified star on both sides of the Americana divide. Not surprisingly, this new album finds further concession to commercial concerns via an excess of ballads and only the occasional backwoods ramble. While pretty and appealing, committing nine of fourteen tracks to melancholy laments leaves the songs sounding so similar, it's difficult to discern one from another. It's the few up-tempo, down-home tunes such as "My Poor Old Heart" and a dark, dusty read on Woody Guthrie's "Pastures of Plenty" that ensure Krauss's roots remain ingrained.

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Lee Zimmerman

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