Alison Krauss & Union Station, Paper Airplane
Meaningful songs stirringly played, and a feel for roots that feel right in any time and place
If Alison Krauss only sang, she would be one of the great alt country/folk singers of the last 25 years. And if she only played fiddle, she'd be a Grand Ole Opry legend for that alone. If she wrote her own songs — well, that just wouldn't be fair.
After the long, sparkling detour with Robert Plant for the Raising Sand record and tour, Krauss and her longtime modern bluegrass band Union Station return with their first studio record since 2004. Robert Lee Castleman's title track sets the tone with its heartbreaking beauty; it's as irresistible as it is sad. In fact, there's heartache by the minute on Airplane, whether on Richard Thompson's love-haunted "Dimming of the Day" or Jackson Browne's catch-in-the-throat closer, "My Opening Farewell."
Three songs featuring Union Station guitarist and mandolin player Dan Tyminski, whose vocals split the different between Ralph Stanley and Levon Helm, lighten the mood and quicken the pace. His robust "angry farmer" timbre is front-and-center on Peter Rowan's "Dust Bowl Children," Tim O'Brien's "Outside Looking In" and Sidney Cox's seaworthy "Bonita and Bill Butler." Those who discovered Krauss on Raising Sand will find much to embrace: Meaningful songs stirringly played, and a feel for roots that feel right in any time and place.