Windy City Deluxe (2017)
Capital Records, B002625002, 47:50
CD Review by Hermon Joyner
As someone who has been listening to Alison Krauss for close to 30 years, I’ve always had a deep respect and appreciation for her talents as a singer and musician. Her earliest efforts showcased a talent that embodied the spirit of the Bluegrass music while updating it for a new generation of listeners. What she lacked in finesse and sophistication, she made up in authenticity and passion. She always brought a lot of heart to every project. Albums like Every Time You Say Goodbye and So Long So Wrong are still some of my favorite bluegrass albums.
But since those early recordings from the late 1980s to now, she has grown and evolved as a singer. She has stepped away from a strict bluegrass repertoire and ventured into pop and country music. And now with Windy City, she has embraced the lush sounds of classic country with a voice that pushes her to new heights of technical accomplishments. In a rather long and award-laden career, Windy City is Alison Krauss’s finest vocal performance and is more than likely a recording that will define her as an artist in the years to come.
Windy City Deluxe is made up of covers of classic songs like Willie Nelson’s I Never Cared for You, Roger Miller’s River in the Rain, and John Hartford’s Gentle On My Mind. It is a measure of Krauss’s confidence that she would tackle such an iconic song like Gentle on My Mind, but she pulls it off and shows that no song can ever be called finished; there is always something more that can be said and added to it. The “Deluxe” designation for this CD means that you get four live tracks in addition to the ten studio tracks and you get slightly different packaging.
There is now a depth and substance to Krauss’s voice that only years of experience and mastery can account for. Her voice is smooth and pure, but possessed of uncommon control and responsiveness. It is voice that deserves to be listened to again and again, which is what I intend to do with this album. Windy City gets my highest recommendation.