Monday, February 20, 2012

CD REVIEW - Dale Ann Bradley - Somewhere South of Crazy

By Dan King

Dale Ann Bradley - Somewhere South of Crazy

Record Label: Compass Records
Released: August 30, 2011

It’s been the same story in real estate since the dawn of time: Location, Location, Location.

Drift into the world of recorded music and the prevailing mantra can become: Production, Production, Production.

“Hey kid, how are you gonna package that shiny object?”

Dale Ann Bradley is quite the shiny object. She possesses a wonderfully expressive voice that evokes echoes of some of the grand dames of bluegrass and country music. Alison Krauss and Reba McEntire come to mind. She is also a very talented writer. Both aspects of her ability shine on her new CD “Somewhere South of Crazy,” though it can be a bit tough to see all that goodness through a hazy mix.

More on that later.

The tunes on this recording are a nice combination of Dale Ann’s originals, some old classics, and even an old Seals and Crofts tune that Dale Ann manages to make her own. She explains the inclusion of “Summer Breeze” thusly - “That was a melody that I always thought sounded so mountainy and Celtic.” Well it certainly does when she sings it!

Ms. Bradley writes in the traditional spirit of Kentucky bluegrass and the music throughout is homey, unpretentious, comfortable, and heart-felt.

The players are excellent too, featuring some prominent names like Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Alison Brown on banjo, and Mike Bub on bass. Pam Tillis co-wrote and sang harmony on the title track and Steve Gully lends a sturdy male voice to harmonies as well as a sensitive lead vocal in the duet “Will You Visit Me On Sunday.”

The last tune on the recording, “Old Southern Porches,” is a live recording that shows Dale Ann’s voice in all its expressive glory. It’s just her singing and playing acoustic guitar at an outdoor concert. It’ll knock your socks off and rub your tired feet.

As for the aforementioned production peccadillo…to this reviewer’s ears, the mix sounds a bit too heavily compressed. The natural brightness of the acoustic instruments is somewhat squelched and the voices can seem to arrive to the ear at roughly the same level as the instruments instead of being up top where they belong.

Have no fear in this case it’s not terminal. A little EQ bump fixes most of it and the patient is revived.

“Somewhere South of Crazy” is a great effort from multi-award winner Dale Ann Bradley. Listen to this CD while you work. It is unobtrusive and lights a mellow glow in your heart.

I give this recording 4 and a half banjo strings out of five, and one final mantra: Sincerity, Sincerity, Sincerity


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