Songs of love, or more specifically, disappointment in love, are a staple in bluegrass. These sad rural stories always find some young man in love with a married woman, a gal who doesn't love him, or a young girl who has gone to meet her maker. Broken Hearts of Bluegrass gathers 20 distressing songs on one disc from mostly first-generation players like Don Reno, Mac Wiseman, and the Osborne Brothers. There are a number of classic pieces like "Little Maggie" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky," but these versions -- sung by the Stonemans and Rose Lee Maphis, respectively -- will not be the familiar ones of the Stanley Brothers and Bill Monroe. A different problem presents itself with Jim & Jesse and the Osborne Brothers' cuts. While these acts may be "legendary," it's unclear that "These Brown Eyes" and "Kentucky Waltz" were recorded during either groups' best years. It would be nice to know the origin of all of these tracks -- the album, year, and players. This information, since this is basically an introduction to older bluegrass, would've been helpful to the novice in his or her search for a particular artist's work. While Broken Hearts of Bluegrass has several fine moments, one has the suspicion that the album was pieced together from easily obtainable tracks.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.