Windy City isn’t the best album Alison Krauss has made – and there are a small handful of precious gems to consider already. But it’s a timely, warm reminder that she’s one of the best pure singers and a wonderful song-interpreter. And sometimes that’s all you need. And so it here, hearing Krauss on her fifth solo album and singing songs like Roger Miller’s River In The Rain, Willie Nelson’s I Never Cared For You, and the John Hartford-written/Glen Campbell-owned Gentle On My Mind.
Ron Block’s gut string guitar is a feature, the lush strings of over a dozen star session players and of course the arrangement, production and co-song selection of Buddy Cannon – that’s all part of the magic too.
But on Losing You, Dream of Me and the closing You Don’t Know Me – to name just three examples – all of that subtly blurs to the background and you’re left with this exquisite voice; always the voice. You can almost see Krauss smiling when you hear her sing, you can feel a tear on your cheek sometimes too. That’s the power she has, the spell she casts over song and listener.
It’s a welcome return from one of the finest song interpreters of the last two decades. And as exquisitely chosen as the material is one of the real strengths is that, at 34 minutes, this never overstays its welcome. Some may bemoan the straddling of bluegrass and more countrypolitan fare – but that’s been the worlds Krauss inhabits. I have nothing but love for this album. Yes, I’ll listen to her earlier albums, the incredible work with Union Station, but this has a home in the collection too. Sometimes you just need ‘lovely’ and need to know that saying ‘lovely’ is apt. And right. And ‘nice’.