Review of Alision Krauss & Union Station at the Macauley Theater 04/26/96

By Michael Campbell

It's not often that one gets to experience the total captivation of an audience, let alone by a phenomenon as subtle and sweet as Alison Krauss' voice. Such was the case in front of the reverent crowd in attendance at the Macauley Theatre. That voice is rapidly becoming the worst-kept secret in country music and has, amazingly, remained unspoiled in its musical context. She never resorted to dramatic, clichéd pandering and relied instead on simple, sincere statement.

A lot of credit for Alison's effectiveness as a performer goes to Union Station, both for the substantial musical support, and the ease with which their personalities interplay. You can certainly find greater instrumental prowess in other bluegrass configurations, but Union Station is first and last an ensemble that never loses the essence of the song. Adam Steffi's relaxed mandolin style is balanced by the lonesome harmonies of singer/guitarist Dan Tyminski and the lyrical precision of Krauss' fiddle (one suspects that her honed sense of intonation on the instrument shaped her efficient vocal approach).

Krauss wended her way through such country-based favorites as "Lose Again," "Sleep On," a moving spiritual "The Palm of Your Hand," "Oh Atlanta," and Keith Whitley's "When You Say Nothing At All." She also offered evidence of her crossover intuition with the Motown hit "Baby, Now That I Found You," and Paul McCartney's "I Will" (the latter being the most requested song by the audience).

In his role as opening act, Michael Johnson offered such charm, wry insight, and very accomplished guitar accompaniment skills (using only his fingers on a nylon string guitar) that I finally forgive him for his salute-to-sucrose hit of the Seventies, "Bluer Than Blue."