Jerry Douglas

Lookout for Hope

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Jerry Douglas sure can play the dobro. As the world's undisputed premier dobro player, Douglas has played with just about everybody. And, as would befit somebody with that kind of distinction, his playing is utterly virtuosic. The only question left, then, is what he wants to do with it. On Lookout for Hope, Douglas' fifth release for Sugar Hill, Douglas delivers up his usual newgrass, accompanied by some of the usual newgrass heavyweights, including Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, and Jeff Coffin. Maura O'Connell, James Taylor, and Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio turn in appearances as well. Douglas tries to do a lot. "Patrick Meets the Brickbats and "Cave Bop," for example, show off his lightning-fast playing. They are dazzling displays, but ultimately none too satisfying. Douglas does far better in milking the slow, bittersweet tones of the instrument, such as he does on a cover of Duane Allman's "Little Martha." The ten-minute title track (and album centerpiece), penned by jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, is most intriguing, combining Middle Eastern-sounding scales (such as on David Grisman's "Arabia" opus) with resonant and percussive acoustic sounds. As the master of the instrument, Douglas can do pretty much whatever he wants. Lookout for Hope does not find him resting on his laurels. Instead, he explores a variety of settings and moods, all bound together with the distinctive sound of his instrument.

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