Friday, July 1, 2011

Concert Review- Alison Krauss & Union Station at Mondavi Center- 7/26/11- Davis, CA

Photograph by Edward Ho
It makes sense. The girl always gets top billing. In this case, however, the talented Union Station deserves equal consideration and praise for a truly amazing evening of music. With world-class musician Jerry Douglas on dobro and George Clooney voiceover king Dan Tyminski out front, Krauss has the opportunity to sizzle and shine. Over the course of over two hours, they entranced with tight vocals and instrumental prowess that wowed with its artistry and showcased a huge array of their catalog of material.

In the middle of a tour to promote their brand new Paper Airplane album, Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas put the blue in bluegrass with tale after tale more melancholy than the last. Beautiful, yes. Sorrowful, yes. Heartbreak is what that gorgeous and angelic voice of hers does so well. Krauss joked that it was her job to send us all out in despair and without hope following her show.

Krauss and fellow lead vocalist Dan Tyminski opened the evening by performing the title track off of the new album, "Paper Airplane," followed by the also-new "Dustbowl Children.”

Tyminski utilized his distinct delivery and sharp enunciation on a handful of songs but it was the O Brother Where Art Thou theme song, “Man of Constant Sorrow,” and Woody Guthrie’s “Pastures of Plenty” that seemed to represent him best over the course of the night.

But as strong as Tyminski was, it was the vocals of Krauss that defined the night more than anything. Her voice is truly hauntingly beautiful. There is absolutely no other description. As she sings of dying relationships on “Sinking Stone” or dead relationships on “Ghost in This House,” her voice raises the sadness in the music to truly cinematic levels.

At one point in the middle of the show, Krauss sung a cover of the Richard Thompson song, "Dimming Of The Day." Jerry Douglas played a stellar dobro introduction before Krauss gently sung forlorn lyrics that tell the story of a woman facing hard times and persevering with the help of a special companion. She followed that up by absolutely tearing out her audience's emotions yet again with "Jacob's Dream," a tragic story of two 19th-century youngsters who wander away from home and die alongside a stream. It was at this point, I looked over to my wife, my concert companion, and tears were streaming down her face. She leaned in following the song, and whispered in my ear, “I don’t like you anymore for making me cry.” But her joking aside, the combination of the incredible musicianship and the storytelling made you feel emotion unlike any other concert I’ve been to.

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