by Tim Birkbeck
When you are one of the most successful women in music how do you make up for a 17 year absence of any solo recorded material? The answer is simple for 27 time Grammy winner, Alison Krauss; absolutely smash it out of the park with your next record.
The first album to not feature her long time ‘backing’ band, Union Station, since 1999’s Forget About It, Windy City is a record filled with a whole load of heart and soul, showing every side of that musical talent which has led her to such acclaim throughout the years.
On first listen, Windy City could be perceived as just another country record, but what really makes it stand out is Krauss’ voice. From the more upbeat title track ‘Windy City’, to the more vulnerable ‘River in the Rain,’ she really displays why her voice has captivated so many over the years. Each song will lead you down a twisting road, keeping you on your toes as you never know what to expect next from the 45-year-old.
All 10 tracks on Windy City are re-imaginings of classic songs carefully selected by Krauss and veteran producer Buddy Cannon. Tracks originally made famous by the likes of Willie Nelson,The Osborne Brothers, Glen Campbell, Brenda Lee, and Ray Charles get given a new life via Krauss’ captivating vocal performances.
Despite its sombre subject matter and lyrics, ‘Losing You’ is a great album opener, nicely setting the tone for the rest of the album, while track two, ‘It;’s Goodbye and So Long To You’, has everything a country music fan would expect. Accompanying a high tempo beat, Krauss delivers a catchy chorus which ease. Tracks like this may be her bread and butter but there is sense that she’s almost holding back.
However, with ‘Poison Love’, originally recorded by Bill Monroe in 1951, we really get to see Krauss showing off her vocal range and ability. The stand out track on the record sees an upbeat melody complementing Krauss at every turn.
Producing this album could have been a daunting task, especially after her successes with Union Station and the 17 year gap since her last ‘solo’ record, but Krauss has made a noble effort of it. And while it may not be particularly ground breaking, Windy City is an enjoyable album from start to finish.
Windy City is out now via Capitol Records.