Various Artists

O Sister! The Women's Bluegrass Collection

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The latest in a lengthening string of releases designed to benefit from association with the Coen brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? is this all-girl bluegrass compilation, which features on its cover the requisite stubbly cornfield and archaic font style. Opportunistic as the packaging may be, there's no arguing with the quality of the content. Generously packed with outstanding performances by women as stylistically disparate as Hazel Dickens, Claire Lynch, and Kathy Kallick, O Sister is a delightful celebration of several generations of criminally unheralded female bluegrass artists. The highlights are many, but particular standout tracks include Rhonda Vincent's rocking "Lonesome Wind Blues," the hard-edged mountain sound of Phyllis Boyens (backed up by Hazel Dickens and the Johnson Mountain Boys), and the clawhammer banjo-powered "Comin' Down From God" by the relatively unknown Carol Elizabeth Jones. The usual suspects are here too, of course, including Alison Krauss (on the exquisitely gentle and sweet "Every Time You Say Goodbye") and the Cox Family (twice). You might buy this one because you feel guilty about the way women have been neglected in the bluegrass world, but you'll keep coming back to it because the songs are just so dang good.

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