Friday, February 28, 2014

My second most lucrative review...

This review comes in second place.  I wrote it on September 8, 2008 and it earned almost $254.

When Alison Krauss crossed over to the dark side...

 Sep 8, 2008 (Updated May 22, 2009)
Review by    is a Top Reviewer on Epinions in Music
Rated a Very Helpful Review

    Pros:Strong songs, strong musicians, Alison Krauss's vocals...

    Cons:Very depressing subject matter. Lacks uptempo songs.

    The Bottom Line:Forget About It may be a bit of a downer, but I like it anyway.

    Sometimes it amazes me how quickly time flies. It seems like yesterday the new millennium was on the horizon and so many people were worried about Y2K. And I was on the verge of discovering bluegrass star Alison Krauss on a chance purchase from BMG Music. I had heard so much about Alison Krauss over the years but never actually sat down and listened to her music. BMG happened to be offering a couple of her albums on their Web site. Her 1999 solo effort, Forget About It, was among the choices. I bought it, played it, and loved it, not yet realizing that Forget About It was technically a solo effort. But then I listened to the other album I purchased, which featured her regular band, Union Station, and figured out why Forget About Itwas getting some mixed reviews.

    I like to think of Forget About It as the album that gave Alison Krauss the chance to explore other musical genres besides bluegrass. This album does have a bluegrass feel to it, but it's heavily tempered by a touch of rock and pop. Krauss covers songs written by well known mainstream artists like Todd Rundgren and Michael McDonald. But she also covers "Ghost In This House", a song that was originally done by Shenandoah, a country band. The title track is by Robert Lee Castleman, who has written many of the hits Alison Krauss has done with Union Station. And most of her Union Station bandmates are in attendance, as well. Forget About It runs for 40 minutes and consists of eleven tracks. There are no printed lyrics, but there are a couple of pictures of Alison Krauss before she started sporting long hair. In fact, she offers a positively sunny smile in one shot, which seems a little strange given the somber nature of most of the songs on this album.

    Alison Krauss kicks off with the light ballad "Stay", a song that shows off her angelic soprano and introduces her evolved sound circa 1999. I hear Jerry Douglas's subtle dobro in the background, then he later offers a straightforward solo, and Suzanne Cox lends a warm harmony vocal. I think this song gets the album off to a good start.

    "Forget About It" is a vaguely sexy song that has Alison Krauss singing lyrics that recall a hot romance she had that had cooled off. She challenges her lover to "forget about" their passion and move on, somehow knowing that just like her, he won't be able to forget. Krauss shows her range, performing her own harmony vocal in a deep voice that I rarely hear on her other works. And of course, she also plays some gorgeous fiddle here, too.

    I really love "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference", a song written by Todd Rundgren of "Hello, It's Me" fame. It has a gorgeous melody and Alison Krauss's luminous, whispery vocals are perfect for it. This song's a little depressing; it's a breakup song, after all. But it still works beautifully in my book.

    "Maybe" is yet another pretty ballad about heartbreak. I like this song, but right about now I'm kind of wishing for something a little more upbeat and fun. On this song, we get to hear Alison Krauss's ex husband Pat Bergeson play a guitar solo. It's not half bad, but this song is overall a bit of a downer. I think I'd like it better if I hadn't already heard three breakup songs before it.

    The somber theme continues with "Empty Hearts", a pretty song with a haunting melody. This song was written by Michael McDonald and Michael Johnson. I like it, but I think it's time for the tempo to pick up.

    At last I get my wish for a little cheering up with the song, "Never Got Off The Ground", a slighty plucky number that allows Alison Krauss to show off her bluegrass roots and fiddle talents.

    Alison Krauss does a fine job with "Ghost In This House", but once again, it's a depressing number. The lyrics are interesting, metaphorically about a once passionate couple whose passion died. It was originally performed by Shenandoah, but Alison Krauss totally makes it hers and really improves it. But at this point, I can't help but wonder if it's time to start hiding the matches and knives!

    "It Doesn't Matter Now" is another Michael McDonald number and perhaps moreso on this song than the other covers on this album, this song's origins really show. When I hear this song, I can almost hear Michael McDonald singing it, even though Alison Krauss is the only one credited as a singer. It has an unmistakable McDonald stamp. It's not bad, but I don't think it's the best song on this album.

    "That Kind of Love" is a song that sounds like it should have been written by Michael McDonald. But instead, it was written by Pat Bergeson, who was still married to Alison Krauss at the time it was recorded. I like this song, which also features sublime harmony vocals by Suzanne, Evelyn, and Sidney Cox, members of the Cox Family, a band I've really come to enjoy over the years. And yes, it's another philosophical song about heartbreak. Seems kind of prophetic to me.

    "Could You Lie" is probably the one song on this album that I wouldn't call a ballad. It was written by Ron Block, who is a Union Station member and a prolific songwriter in his own right. I totally hear his influence on this song. Bluegrass lovers will probably appreciate this number, which reminds us where Alison Krauss got her big break. But even with its slightly more upbeat tempo, it's still covering the subject of the hour, breaking up, as Alison despairs "Could you lie and say you love me just a little..." Sounds a little like a plea from my husband's ex wife.

    Special guest vocals are contributed by Dolly Parton and Lyle Lovett on "Dreaming My Dreams With You", a beautiful, dreamy, gorgeous waltzing ballad. And yes, again, this song is about moving on after love lost. The subject matter is sad, of course, but it's easy to forget that as I enjoy the wonderful intermingling of three fantastic voices when Dolly and Lyle join in on the chorus. It always gives me goosebumps.

    Okay... well, I like each and every one of these songs individually. Even taken together, I like all of these songs. But I can't help but realize just how much of a downer this album is to take in one sitting. Alison Krauss has famously joked about how much she likes to do songs that make people feel like crap. Well, I'm afraid that on this album, she manages to overdose a bit on songs that may make listeners want to hit the bottle or the Prozac. Forget About It offers Alison's lovely voice, an amazing band, and a host of great guests. What's more, some very good songwriters contributed to this project. But almost every song is about love lost... great if you're feeling miserable and need company, but not so good if you're in a great mood and want to listen to something that will keep you feeling good.

    Still... I'd be lying if I said I didn't like this album anyway. Of course I'm going to recommend it, but make sure you hide the razor blades, poisons, and ropes first, and be sure to avoid listening to this while simultaneously reading Sylvia Plath.

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