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Alison Krauss and Union Station’s Paper Airplane is their first new release since 2004’s Lonely Runs Both Ways.
The title track written by Robert Lee Castleman, which centers on how one woman hangs onto the last thread of a romance, is tailor made for Krauss. The sullen lyrics (“That’s why you’ll find me here all alone and still wondering why/Waiting inside for the cold to get colder/And here where it's clear that I’ve wasted my time/Hoping to fly, cause it's almost over now”) combined with Krauss’s beautiful interpretation make it a perfect opening track.
Krauss remains one of music’s most gifted vocalists. Her sound has matured but she still manages to bring out the inner turmoil of songs such as “Lay My Burden Down” and “My Love Follows You Where You Go.”
Guitarist Dan Tyminsky also contributes vocals on “Dustbowl Children” and “Bonita and Bill Bauer.” These songs are both steep in the bluegrass roots of storytelling which perfectly suits Tyminsky’s brash narrative style.
The most notable covers, Richard Thompson’s “Dimming of the Day” and Jackson Browne’s “My Opening Farewell,” meet with opposite results. Krauss’s style is too clean to capture the eeriness of Thompson’s original with his ex-wife, Linda. On the other hand, Krauss's vocals are just right for Browne’s “Opening.” She captures the song’s theme of anguish better than Browne did in his original version.
Paper Airplane will surely be embraced by Krauss and Union Station’s fans and could even make them new ones. They prove that a group can come back sounding better than ever after a long gap between recordings.