Album Review: Paper Airplane by Alison Krauss & Union Station
Very Good, Based on 10 Critics
Rolling Stone - 100 Based on rating 5/5
Could some of the devastating breakup songs on Paper Airplane be about that dude Alison Krauss made the Grammy-snatching 2007 LP Raising Sand with? Conceivably. But heartache is what Krauss has done with her band Union Station for more than 20 years. As usual, the virtuoso music shines without flashiness. Singer-guitarist Dan Tyminski, now doomed to Robert Plant comparisons, arguably out-sings him (see the New Depression lament "Dust Bowl Children"), and Krauss' soprano gilds Richard Thompson's "Dimming of the Day," a love letter that would welcome Plant's harmonies.
If Alison Krauss felt any pressure when she went in to record Paper Airplanes, her follow-up to 2004’s triple Grammy-winning Lonely Runs Both Ways and Raising Sand, her collaboration with Robert Plant — which went on to garner an additional six Grammys – it is impossible to hear it anywhere on the album. Whatever blood, sweat and tears were shed during the creation of this beautifully realized cycle of songs are invisible as each performance comes off as exhilarating, natural and blissfully unforced. In every instance, Paper Airplanes rises to the impossibly high bar set by its predecessors to form what may well be the finest album Krauss has ever released.
The pure-piped bluegrass star found mainstream success with Raising Sand, her Grammy-sweeping 2007 album with Robert Plant. Reunited with her longtime band, though, Krauss sounds unworried about pleasing new fans here: Exactingly performed and lushly produced, Paper Airplane exudes a bone-deep tranquillity — even when Krauss describes, as on ”Lay My Burden Down,” the feel of ”cold clay against my skin.” B Download these:Bluesy Lie AwakeRichard Thompson cover Dimming of the Day See all of this week’s reviews .
The cover imagery of Paper Airplane, Alison Krauss’ first album with longtime collaborators Union Station since 2004, is a calculated visual abstract of the nature of this musical partnership. Surrounded by the earnest gentlemen of her band in their minimal 19th century attire, Krauss is glamorous and ethereal. She seems poised on the cusp of floating gently away from their sepia company and the spartan field tent they occupy.
While there’s something to be said for adhering to a formula that has, quite deservedly, earned a rare balance between commercial presence and artistic cachet, not to mention more than two dozen Grammy awards, Alison Krauss & Union Station’s Paper Airplane doesn’t offer an “in” for the unconverted. From the haunting use of Jerry Douglas’s dobro on “Lie Awake” to Ron Block’s razor-sharp banjo picking on “My Love Follow You Where You Go,” the arrangements stick to the classy, polished hybrid of modern bluegrass and adult pop that has been Krauss and Union Station’s MO on each of their albums. The record is so faithful to expectations (lead guitarist Dan Tyminski gets a few turns at the mic, longtime songwriting collaborator Robert Castleman contributes one of the set’s best-written songs) that it plays out as somewhat rote.
Alison Krauss might have the most aesthetically beautiful voice in popular music. I don’t think that’s hyperbole. This fact may be part of the reason why the latest album with her band Union Station, Paper Airplane, debuted at the top of the charts (#1 on Bluegrass Albums and Country Albums, #3 on the Billboard Top 200). All the laurels are understandable, as this is a fine album with well-crafted songs and the tight, polished instrumental work of Union Station.
Alison Krauss & Union Station Few singers do plaintive as well as Alison Krauss, with the whispers, feathery quavers and reedy resignation in her voice. After her musical and commercial triumph with Robert Plant on the 2007 album “Raising Sand” — and, Mr. Plant has said, the beginnings of a ….
Bluegrass superstar’s new album is a fine addition to her impressive catalogue. Nick Barraclough 2011 The genius of Alison Krauss is that she knows what she does best and she only does that. She is a world-class bluegrass fiddle player, has the voice of an angel and an (almost) unerring ear for a song. Her band is impeccable, her production faultless and understated; she’s even stuck with her small but credible label, Rounder, which she joined in 1985.
Paper Airplane is another strong, if typical, offering from Alison Krauss and Union Station (AKUS). As always, most of the material comes from outside writers whose melodies and sensibilities mesh well with Krauss’ vocals and the popgrass sound that AKUS has created, a sound they have no real competition for. Nobody sounds like Alison Krauss (or like vocalist/guitarist/mandolinist Dan Tyminski either, for that matter), and the band’s dominant soloist, Dobro master Jerry Douglas, is without peer no matter whose record he’s playing on.
Bluegrass songbird rises from the ashes of Albion with 11 impeccables beginning with the breathtaking title track and equally stilling "Lie Awake." Union Station masters Dan Tyminski (mandolin), Ron Block (banjo), and Jerry Douglas (Dobro) suit up behind the boss lady fiddling Lori McKenna and Jackson Browne, but a treacly take on Richard Thompson ("Dimming of the Day") and "Sinking Stone" or two too many disappoint. .