She Does It All

Crowd Favorites (Rounder Records)
Claire Lynch

By Bob Mitchell

Lynch, one of the most instantly identifiable female vocalists in bluegrass, has a way with lyrics - and with melodies. She makes every song her own with a pleasing mix of styles. She cannot be easily categorized but two things are crystal clear: She knows how to deliver a song and she knows how to select musicians who can enrich her presentations. She soars. She glides. She drives. She swings. She praises. She bounces. And, she struts. Sometimes subtle, but always rhythmically powerful, she displays comfort and authority with traditional bluegrass, as well as contemporary folk and country music.

Her latest release, a collection of some of the most-requested songs, showcases an anthology from previous Rounder recordings and documents over a decade of graceful beguiling work from an impressively rich repertoire. The project also features four newly recorded tracks including an eight-minute contemporary version of "Wabash Cannonball," and two original songs - her poignant tribute "The Day That Lester Died," and her lovely "Hills of Alabam."

A short list of other musical highlights includes full stream ahead "Train Long Gone," a swinging "Fallin' In Love," a fancy prancing "If Wishes Were Horses," a moving gospel track "Your Presence is My Favorite Gift," and two exquisite love songs, "Silver and Gold" and "Sweetheart Darlin' of Mine."

Lynch has received two Grammy(r) nominations and a Best Female Vocalist award from the International Bluegrass Music Association. Some of the many talented musicians who provide the perfect underpinning for Lynch's multi-faceted arrangements and styles includes Jim Hurst (banjo, guitar and harmony vocals); Missy Raines (7-time winner of the IBMA bass player of the year award); Jason Thomas (fiddle and mandolin); Stuart Duncan (fiddle); Rob Ickes (Dobro); Andrea Zonn (harmony); Charlie Cushman and Alison Brown (banjo); Ronnie McCoury (mandolin) and David Grier and Kenny Smith (guitar).

Several years ago, in order to hear Lynch, I drove three hours to a festival and the trip was worth it. The good news is that you only have to drive to the nearest music store or use to computer to order on-line. While she is not strictly bluegrass, she is totally satisfying. On a five-point scale of excellence this release merits a five.

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