Alison Krauss and Union Station – Paper Airplane

January 01, 1970



Given the sepia-tinted cover photo and the fact that the men
being pictured are dressed in ankle boots and waistcoats, it’s easy to imagine
that Alison Krauss and Union Station are holding to the austere template that
informed their bluegrass viability early on. Raising Sand, Krauss’ highly regarded collaboration with Robert
Plant, went a long way towards boosting the band’s profile, but if Krauss and
crew intended to coast on that momentum, that’s not evident here.


Mostly, the band retains their traditional trappings,
despite some concession to the easily engaging melodies accompanying Krauss’
wistful ballads. Mining a well-chosen batch of covers from the pens of Richard
Thompson, Peter Rowan, Jackson Browne, Tim O’Brien and Lori McKenna among
others, the band offers a cohesive set of performances that are as assured as
they are impassioned. Guitarist Dan Tyminski’s vocals provide a rougher edge on
the down-home banjo ramble “Dust Bowl Children,” the fiddle-fueled “On the
Outside Looking In” and the rugged narrative “Bonita and Bill Butler,” but
otherwise it’s Krauss who naturally seizes the spotlight. Her tender take on
Thompson’s “Dimming of the Day” provides the grace and commitment this earnest
entreaty demands.  That delicate lilt is
echoed throughout, in the subdued start-up track “Paper Airplane,” the quiet
sway of “Lay My Burdens Down,” and the album’s sad-eyed coda, Browne’s
resilient “My Opening Farewell.”


Bolstered by their meticulous arrangements and an adroit
command of tone and texture, Paper
positively soars on these strengths.


Airplane,” “Dimming of the Day,” “Bonita and Bill Butler” LEE ZIMMERMAN

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