april 2009

DAILEY & VINCENT, Brothers From Different Mothers
By Billy Altman

When your debut album makes IBMA history by garnering seven awards, including Emerging Artist of the Year, Vocal Group of theå Year and Entertainer of the Year, as well as Album of the Year to boot, you've pretty much got carte blanche to do whatever you want to for a followup. Which only makes Dailey & Vincent's eagerly awaited sophomore release all the more impreåsive.

BOBBY OSBORNE, Bluegrass and Beyond
Bluegrass and Beyond is a powerful and moving journey through bluegrass legend Bobby Osborne's history, blending old-time gospel soul, hard driving traditional bluegrass, country heartbreakers, poignant reminiscences of the past, and, for good measure, one special showcase for his own impeccable mandolin work when he trades high stepping verses with Duncan's fiddle, Matt Despain's dobro and Dana Cupp's banjo on Osborne's own beloved instrumental, "Hyden."

DOLLY PARTON, 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs
A reissue timed to coincide with the Broadway opening of Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 musical version, the original 1988 release came in the midst of Dolly's run at pop stardom, and, typical of those records, teamed her with pop, rock and country musicians. Also typical of those long players, this one, produced by Mike Post, the king of TV show theme songs (Hill Street Blues, the Law & Order franchise, NYPD Blue, The Rockford Files, et al), has some clunky arrangements that hardly serve Dolly well, nor she them, but it also has several moments of prime Dolly writing and singing that make it an interesting artifact of her career at this juncture.

Visiting the Handsome Family's haunting Honey Moon album is a bit like entering a room populated by a chattering class comprised of Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, William Faulkner, Russ Columbo, Groucho Marx and that guy on the saw who adds so much mystery to the Flatlanders' first album. It feels dark and morbid in there, but to such a degree it becomes almost comical, like a really good carnival fun house ride when you're trundling along in the wobbly car in pitch black surroundings only to be suddenly confronted by the onrushing specter of a behemoth of a bus bearing down on you mercilessly, with blinding lights and blaring horn in disorienting display. Then, right before you're crushed, your car turns sharply and you're out of danger. You never were in any danger, of course, but it was still a cheap thrill, and kind of bracing in its own way. On Honey Moon, Brett (music) and Rennie Sparks (lyrics) explore the deep purple abyss between the fun house car and the onrushing bus. But do they swerve in time to avoid being crushed?

IAN TYSON, Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories
By Billy Altman

Yellowhead To Yellowstone And Other Love Stories echoes with the sound of experience; like the autumnal Alberta weather of his evergreen "Four Strong Winds," the music's good in Ian Tyson's fall.

Recent Issues

(For all back issues go to the Archive)


Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (www.johnmendelsohn.com)
Website Design: Kieran McGee (www.kieranmcgee.com)
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY; www.flickr.com/audreyharrod), Alicia Zappier (New York)
E-mail: thebluegrassspecial@gmail.com
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024