Quick Review (LP): Paper Airplane by Alison Krauss & Union Station

Alison Krauss & Union Station
Paper Airplane
Rounder; 2011

My Rating: C (56/100)

Best Tracks: "Paper Airplane", "Sinking Stone", "My Opening Farewell"

More of the same from Alison & company, which is OK.

– I listen mostly to hipster rock, so listening to new music by the likes of an Alison Krauss or a Mark Knopfler is always an interesting change of pace for me. But then again, Alison is sort of a hipster herself at this point, since she collaborated with T. Bone Burnett and Robert Plant on that grammy winner a few years ago, covers Elvis Costello songs, and collaborates with Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris.
– This sounds very standard for one of their records. That is, the Alison-led songs sound exceedingly lovely, and the Tyminski-led songs are gruffer and a bit more trad Bluegrass.
– It’s pretty much become a formula with Alison’s material. Pleasant, pastoral arrangements with her gorgeous voice right up front in the mix, like she’s your mother rocking you to sleep.
– The chorus (and hook) of "Lay My Burden Down" sounds almost identical to that of "Just Let Me Touch You For A-While." If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I guess.
– Alison has produced some truly brilliant moments in the past – "Everytime You Say Goodbye", "Broadway", "Baby, Now That I’ve Found You", "Restless", "The Lucky One", "The Scarlet Tide" – unfortunately, there’s nothing that feels truly great here. There are a whole bunch of beautiful songs and lovely performances, but nothing that really demands your attention. More Castleman next time?
– This one could have used some of those mind-blowing instrumentals that the band pulls off so well.
– I’d love something a bit more in the way of a concept from this band. This effort seems very workman like and a bit anonymous. Even a cover record would be great (the cover of Jackson Browne might be the best thing here)! Just something to mix it up.
Thom Jurek of AMG offers a perspective that is certainly counter to mine. He detects a little more of an overarching theme perhaps. I will admit it feels a little too critical to award this less than a B, because when it comes down to it, Union Station is an above average group of musicians on a bad day. Still, this one just wasn’t that interesting for this city slicker.

Cohesion  (4/5)
Concept (3/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Consequence (3/5)
Songs (4/5)

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