Alison Krauss & Union Station continue their winning streak on the aptly titled Lonely Runs Both Ways. While they have in some part grown away from their earthy, rollicking bluegrass roots, they've been able to craft a really polished and honest-sounding brand of mid-American adult contemporary that never dips into the schlockiness of mainstream AC or the formula-driven sound of young country. Instead, Krauss, co-songwriter Dan Tyminski, and the Station dig deep into the classic themes of rural American music, polishing them with terrific production, the finest instrumentation, and two of the best voices around.
This is Krauss's first studio album for three years, though in the meantime she's delivered a bestselling live album, won three Grammy awards, and made a guest appearance at the Oscars. The new disc is a sleek selection of ballads and bluegrass, with her Union Station band sounding as supernaturally tight as ever. The ensemble are matchless when they get stuck into the raw earthiness of Woody Guthrie's Pastures of Plenty or the banjo-powered Rain Please Go Away - both sung by guitarist Dan Tyminski - and they demonstrate a near-telepathic rapport on the instrumental Unionhouse Branch.