Alison Krauss - Windy City
Alison Krauss is a stellar fiddle player, not to mention a really great vocalist. You may remember her haunting and inspiring version of "Down to the River to Pray" form the O' Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack which propelled her into the zeitgeist. She came at just the right time where jazz infused with pop was becoming quite popular. However since then she has yet to capture that thing which really makes her special. Krauss instead doubled down on the soft rock-esque tunes, with some country elements just to include everyone possible. However writing for the largest common denominator is never a way to create great art. The title track is a great example; "Windy City" about her love being stuck in Chicago (we guess) is just laughably bad. She tries to make this forlorn love song appealing, but it is so specific yet vague that it never works or comes together. It is almost like Krauss refuses to recognize what really makes her great and instead continues to push these incredibly basic songs with incredibly basic delivery. Her Fiddle only makes an appearance on one song which puts the most pressure on her voice, which in a word is beautiful. The album was recorded to really highlight Her voice, yet it is too gentle and to soft for the songs she is trying to sing. There is zero grit, and zero edge which leaves you with this amorphous album of music that sound pretty, but is far from good.
That is perhaps the most frustrating thing; all the pieces are there for this to be a really good album but when they come together it simply is not. Also like a lot of Country songs many of these tracks are covers and other versions such as Glen Campbell's version of "Gentle on My Mind" are far superior. When Krauss was singing over Bluegrass sounds back in the early 2000s, it was magical, it was a match made in heaven, but now the Bluegrass is gone and what we are left with is no where near as exciting. If you are able to stay awake for the later tracks, congratulations the rest of the album sounds exactly the same. "All Alone Am I" crawls and is almost this Country twinged Barbara Streisand type song, The full Orchestra behind her feels so unnecessary and out of place that it is really hard to get beyond it. Perhaps because She is so wildly talented, and so accomplished that we just expect more. Even with that in mind however this album still falls so flat. Luckily there are plenty more songs with Alison Krauss that blows Windy City totally out of the water, just go listen to those instead.
1.3 out of 10