Alison Krauss & Union Station With the Cox Family | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Alison Krauss & Union Station With the Cox Family 

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Country music's close ties with gospel are nothing new; everyone from the Carter Family to Johnny Cash has praised the Lord with twang. So bluegrass fiddler Alison Krauss's recent recording with the smoothly harmonizing country gospel group the Cox Family makes perfect sense. Grammy winner Krauss is contemporary bluegrass's high priestess; the 22-year-old Champaign native's striking albums with the group Union Station have rapidly become minor classics. In addition to her prodigious fiddling talents, Krauss is a tremendous singer, simultaneously sweet and brassy, and her music, while steeped in a hallowed tradition, tastefully pushes the envelope toward a more mainstream country sound. Her joint effort with the Cox Family, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow (Rounder), is brimming with diversity, from the swinging inflections of the Thomas Dorsey standard "Walk Over God's Heaven" to the aching and tender waltz "Remind Me, Dear Lord" to an unexpected transformation of Paul Simon's "Loves Me Like a Rock." Country gospel lacks the unfettered emotionalism of black gospel, but couched in this more mannered form is a striking range of expression that transcends the subject matter. You need not be a praying person to be affected by this soaring stuff. Sunday, 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 929-5959 or 559-1212.

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