Kentucky For Me
What a gift multi-IBMA “Female Vocalist of the Year” Award-winner Dale Ann Bradley’s voice is. At times, she sounds like a wonderful combination of Dolly Parton and a female Keith Whitely.
On her latest album, which is a true masterpiece, she’s upped the ante by bringing in an array of other ultra-talented singers, including Larry Cordle, John Cowan, Sam Bush, Danny Paisley, John Conlee, JP Pennington (former lead singer with the country band Exile), Aaron and Adam Bibelhauser, Dave Atkinson and the Po’ Ramblin’ Boys.
Bradley’s instrumental backing is just as star-studded. Michael Cleveland, Alison Brown, Scott Vestal and Ryan Paisley are among quite a few illustrious pickers heard on these 11 tracks.
Then there are the songs themselves, each and every one of which is a gem of a slightly different thematic and emotional hue.
On the title tune (written by fellow Kentuckian, the late Tom T. Hall), Larry Cordle shares lead vocals with Bradley. The result is a deeply moving, deeply felt tribute to Bradley’s beloved home state.
The melancholy “Appalachian Blue” (Donna and Michale Anderson) is one of several other songs in which the homeland itself becomes a living character, and where geography figures into identity, heritage and memory. This time around, Bradley and guest John Cowan provide stellar vocals.
“Kentucky Gold,” cowritten W. Carson and Ronnie Reno and featuring Sam Bush on guest vocals, is a larger than life tale of a legendary race horse. “Dogwood Winter” (Steve Gulley and Tim Stafford) is an eerie and unsettling tribute to the early pioneers who too often faced ruin and tragedy in their westward trek through the bleak and unforgiving Kentucky wilderness.
Bradley and her musical compatriots also bring fresh energy and immediacy to the familiar Billy Joe Shaver gospel ode “I’m Just An Old Chunk of Coal.” This time around, veteran country singer Jon Conlee (“Rose Colored Glasses”) reminds us what a fine singer he is.
Bradley and Dave Atkins also breathe fire into their “grassified” reprise of the Tom Petty rock anthem “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”