The first live album from Alison Krauss + Union Station is predictable only its gathering of fine songs and displays of virtuoso musicianship and emotionally charged vocalizing -- that's what we've come to expect from the fiddlin' phenom. But while Krauss's solo star has never shone brighter than in 2002, she frequently yields the spotlight on the double-disc Live
, which includes two new songs. Jerry Douglas
, introduced by Krauss as "the greatest Dobro player the world has ever known," steps out for some mesmerizing picking on the poignant, heart-tugging "A Tribute to Peadur O'Donnell" and the bristling "Monkey Let the Hogs Out," which Union Station mandolin player Dan Tyminski
brings home with an urgent vocal. Tyminski later reprises his signature moment from O Brother, Where Art Thou?
with a gritty reading of "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow." Disc 1 ends with Union Station guitarist Ron Block
's beautiful ballad "Faraway Land," the title song from his woefully underappreciated 2001 solo album, Faraway Land
. Then there's Ms. Krauss herself, whose burnished, calibrated vocals and tasty fiddle work are models of a restraint, revealing the underlying passion by degrees, rather than in one fiery burst. The repertoire here is drawn almost equally from her solo and band albums, and most of the monuments are represented, from breathtaking ballads ("Ghost in This House," "Forget About It," et al.) to hushed, closely harmonized gospel ("Down to the River to Pray") to bluesy, up-tempo numbers that show off Krauss's facility with a swinging a lyric ("Oh, Atlanta"). When all is said and done, Krauss not only reinvigorates the old material, she renders it timeless. This is one powerful live set.