Picking up where its 1998 predecessor left off, Bluegrass Essentials, Vol. 2 presents a condensed history of modern bluegrass, at least in terms of featured artists. There are hints of traditional bluegrass throughout the album -- primarily in the form of such artists as Bill Monroe, Rose Maddox, Reno & Smily, the Stanley Brothers, and the Osborne Brothers -- but it leans heavily toward modern recordings from the likes of Hot Rize, Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice, Chesapeake, Claire Lynch, the Dillards, Joe Val & the New England Bluegrass Boys, and Gillian Welch (whose inclusion may be seen by some as a bit of a stretch). Because it covers more ground than its predecessor, it's a little more diffuse and not as consistently entertaining, but it nevertheless has a wealth of great music that certainly makes it a worthwhile sampler for the curious.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine