Monday, November 10, 2008

Alison Krauss: Live from the Tracking Room: A Hundred Miles or More

Alison Krauss
A Hundred Miles or More : Live from the Tracking Room

For her CD A Hundred Miles or More, Alison Krauss gathered up some one off projects, several duets, and a handful of songs she had not recorded before to make what turned out to be almost a signature record for the artist. She has been on the national stage since she was a young teenager, based in bluegrass and expanding her musical territory to include country, folk, pop, and rock. Along the way she has has won twenty one Grammys and just about every other award you could think of.

One of the reasons she’s done that is that Krauss is passionate about the music, the sound, the message of what she sings and plays. That’s the understated but powerfully central force in this look at the recording of nine songs from that record, live at the Tracking Room studios in Nashville. It’s unlikely that Krauss and her musical friends usually wear television make up or get quite so dressed up when cameras aren't on hand; nonetheless they all focus on the music and on their work together. Seeing Krauss at work with such varied duet partners as James Taylor, John Waite, and Brad Paisley is fascinating. Tony Rice, who was and is one of Krauss’ musical heroes, is also a guest, joining for a previously unrecorded song of his called Shadows. All this is very high level music, and it’s just as interesting to hear and see the collaboration among Krauss’ regular band mates in Union Station, with Sam Bush, John Hobbs, Stuart Duncan, and others adding to the mix at times. The visual setting is low key, sort of a living room like atmosphere, intended to show how Krauss and her friends work in the studio.

Interview material from Krauss, her guests, band members, producer and engineer Gary Pacsoza, and songwriters Julie Lee and John Pennell, link the songs. Most of them are, no surprise for Krauss fans fans, really sad songs. James Taylor has a memorable comment about that in his interview segment, which I will leave you to check out for yourself. The two duet on their track from a Louvin Brothers tribute, How’s the World Treating You. Lay Down Beside Me, her duet with John Waite, will be especially pleasing to those who’ve come to the bluegrass award winner’s work through her recent collaborations with Robert Plant. Sawing on the Strings shows a flash of that bluegrass background. Krauss closes things out with a song -- a contemporary piece by Sarah Siskind -- which bridges old and new, country, bluegrass, folk, and just plain timeless ballad, called Simple Love.

You don’t have to have heard the audio recording of A Hundred Miles or More to enjoy this hour long program, which was originally taped as a special for GAC. If you have, though, it adds another welcome dimension to the music, both from seeing the musicians and work together and hearing their thoughts on how they go about that. The disc is designed to allow you to play the whole program through as well as to play just the songs or just the interview material.

you may also want to see

Music Road: reflections with Adrienne Young

Music Road: Wilderness Plots: the dvd

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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