Although fine female bluegrass singers and songwriters like Hazel Dickens and Emmylou Harris have achieved success, Alison Krauss must be considered the first woman bluegrass superstar. Ever since her first release, Krauss’ CDs have maintained a remarkably high level of musical and technical consistency. Her latest, Alison Krauss + Union Station Live, shows why the audiences at her regularly sold out live shows always go home happy.
Recorded over two evenings using Sony’s DSD recording format, this two-CD set combines both great playing and great sound. Union Station’s core members, Dan Tyminsky on guitar, mando, and baritone vocals, Ron Block on banjo, guitar, and tenor vocals, and Barry Bales on acoustic bass, are joined by Jerry Douglas on dobro and Larry Atamanuik on drums. This ensemble produces some of the tightest, most technically complex bluegrass music you’ll ever hear. Their precise three-part harmonies coupled with dazzling solos and complex arrangements set a dizzyingly high musical standard.
The sound on Alison Krauss + Union Station Live is nothing short of state of the art. The Sony DSD recording process is simply the most transparent and least colored methodology currently available. Chief engineer Larry Paczosa, assisted by Neal Cappellino, Tracy Martinson, Eric Bickel, Thomas Johnson, and K.C. Groves, captured the pristine quality of Alison Krauss and Union Station’s live show. Frank Edmundson, their road manager and house sound engineer who recently passed away at age 49, was renowned in bluegrass circles as one of the best live sound guys. The sonics here give you a taste of just how good amplified music can sound.
This is a must-have for Krauss and bluegrass fans, as well as anyone else who enjoys virtuoso acoustic music.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Mar. ’03 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.