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DALE ANN BRADLEY - Catch Tomorrow

DALE ANN BRADLEY - Catch Tomorrow
Compass Records 7 4445 2

Whoever is was that first described Bluegrass as a 'high, lonesome sound' surely had it nailed and a 3rd album from this daughter of a Primitive Baptist preacher from rural Kentucky displays amply why she has become something of a roots icon in a genre where, increasingly the glitz and glamour are lauded over its execution. In case anyone should wonder why we're talking about an American musical form that only emerged in the mid 1940s, it should be borne in mind that its origins lie in the traditional music of these Isles, taken by immigrants (particularly Scots-Irish) to primarily, Appalachia. Sure it's had various African American bolt-ons, but in essence I'd venture that it's stayed true to its origins in a way that mainstream Country music hasn't.

Bradley is at pains to point out in this CD's liner notes that she values writing and singing songs that impart a message - " the characters in these stories seem to have maintained strong faith, compassion and love while overcoming the most cruel of adversities ."

Here then, going on those criteria, are inherently folksongs, whether of infidelity and retribution ('Rita Mae') or moonshine stills ('Run Rufus Run') By turns, dark, elemental, and infectious, not one of these songs is less than marvellous, delivered by a singer possessed of a natural presence and a sublime voice. The fiddle of Michael Cleveland, banjo from Alison Brown and Pete Kelly, and mandolin courtesy of Jesse Brock make for an exquisite and classic bluegrass back up when added to guitar and upright bass.

Well-chosen covers include Me And Bobby McGee from Kris Kristofferson and a remarkable Cant Stand The Rain that Ann Peebles would just about recognise! The Compass imprint is invariably the mark of beautifully crafted music played and produced by people who know what they're doing and love doing it. If you want harmonies, rewarding musicianship and well-honed melodicism, you've been reading the right review!

Clive Pownceby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 71 of The Living Tradition magazine.