Another Stellar Effort From a Kentucky Girl

Dale Ann Bradley
Catch Tomorrow (Compass)

By Bob Mitchell

Goodness gracious! Bradley, a 2006 IBMA nominee for female vocalist of the year, has a phenomenal voice and she knows how to use it. This down-home Pineville, Kentucky, girl is one of the women responsible for reshaping the sounds of bluegrass with her pure mountain soprano. Bradley's voice alone is worth the price of the CD but she is joined by the legendary Larry Sparks, former Shenandoah member Marty Raybon, dazzling banjoist and Compass Records co-founder Alison Brown, fiddler extraordinaire Michael Cleveland, plus Jim Lauderdale Andrea Zonn and Steve Gulley (harmony vocals), Jessie Brock and Scott Napier (mandolin), Todd Phillips (bass), Jeff White (guitar), Andy Hall (Dobro) and too many others to mention. The most unusual, yet thoroughly satisfying, collaboration is with Irish super group, Lunasa.

Standout tracks include "Pass Me Not" (a powerful gospel duet with Sparks), "Holding On To Nothing" (a heartfelt duet with Raybon), an energetic "Julia Belle" (the tale of a riverboat from the unique viewpoint of the boat) and "I Can't Stand The Rain" (with a slightly progressive edge). However, the centerpieces for this gratifying project are original tunes from Bradley and long time band member Vicki Simmons (bass). Bradley reaches deep inside herself in the poignant tribute to the lasting influence of a grandmother's love in "Grandma's Gift." Her strong and honest vocals permeate the entire project but no more so than "Memories, Miles and Tears" (a compelling tale of lasting love).

"Catch Tomorrow" is Bradley's third solo recording and, according to the press release, she wanted it to be "thought provoking." Indeed, it is. Several of her selections epitomize heartbreaking and catastrophic topics. Another Bradley-Simmons original, "Run Rufus Run," is based on the true story of a 12-year-old boy who "ran shine" (delivered moonshine) due to the family's financially hard times and his father's black lung from years of coal mining. "Mercy Railroad" is the tragic tale of a slave mother who puts her child on the Underground Railroad train to freedom with her hope for a better life for the child. "When The Mist Comes Again" is filled with vigorous Celtic essence as Bradley and the Irish Group Lunasa relay the story of the harsh life of a single mother who is deserted by an alcoholic husband.

Several months ago I was on an out of state business trip and happened to be on the same airplane as Dale Ann Bradley, Vicki Simmons and Michael Cleveland. Bradley was in the process of completing this release and shared her enthusiasm and satisfaction with the project. Now that I have heard it, I understand why she was excited. After you have heard it, you will also understand.

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