Bluegrass Express

Various Artists

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Bluegrass Express Review

by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

Rounder's 2004 compilation of traditional music offers something old, something new, and something blue. Bluegrass, that is. Bluegrass Express is yet another fine collection of songs about trains, and this one gathers together artists from the genre's foundation (Bill Monroe) to its most recent acts (e.g., Rhonda Vincent). Even with the variety of performers, the theme of trains and a traditional-based style of music gives Bluegrass Express a nice consistency. The oldest selection, "I'm Blue, I'm Lonesome" from Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys, remains stunning after 50 years. Joined by singer Jimmy Martin and fiddler Vassar Clements, Monroe delivers a lonesome vocal that reminds listeners of the raw power of early bluegrass. There are also selections from old-timers like Ralph Stanley, Jim & Jesse, and the Osborne Brothers. The young performers, though less inclined to sing it high and lonesome, fill out the collection with a fine group of songs. Rob Ickes, perhaps the biggest name next to Jerry Douglas on the Dobro scene, offers a spunky take on "Reuben." There are also selections from young-timers like Rhonda Vincent, the Stevens Sisters, and the Lynn Morris Band. So whether one is attracted to trains, bluegrass, or just good music, Bluegrass Express should fit the bill.

blue highlight denotes track pick