Alison Krauss & Union Station | Chicago Theatre | Folk & Country | Chicago Reader

Alison Krauss & Union Station Member Picks Early Warnings (Music) Sold Out (Music) Soundboard Recommended

When: Fri., Sept. 9, 8 p.m. 2011

Bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss scuffed up and broadened her sound for her stellar 2007 collaboration with Robert Plant, Raising Sand, but on the new Paper Airplane (Rounder)—her first new album in seven years with her longtime band, Union Station—it sounds like she's wiped the experience from her memory. She's gone straight back to the peerless mix of bittersweet balladry and hard-scrubbed breakdowns that's made her the most popular act in bluegrass for more than two decades, and though this retreat is disappointing, the strength of her performances makes it easier to swallow. Many of the songs reflect on painful departures: Krauss soberly looks forward to death on "Lay My Burden Down" ("Gonna lay my body down in the ground / Cold clay against skin"), and on "Sinking Stone" she explains to her lover why she's leaving, her gossamer voice softening the bluntness of her carefully considered, emotionally loaded lyrics. As on previous albums her terrific guitarist and mandolinist, Dan Tyminski, takes lead vocals on a few tunes, like the gritty "Dust Bowl Children," a Peter Rowan ditty that invokes the economic damage done by the natural disasters of the Dirty Thirties to describe the destruction wrought by strip mining and monoculture in the current age. —Peter Margasak

Price: $30-$65

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