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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisWith seven years since Alison Krauss & Union Station last hit the studio and the road together, it was unclear just how well they'd be able to gel together again. Despite the time and space between members, fans didn't waste any time snatching up tickets to a sold out Chicago Theatre show, and with nearly 30 songs spread across two hours, they certainly got their money's worth.
From the opening soft-spoken strums of "Paper Airplane" (the title track from the troupe's newest album) naysayers were instantly silenced as Krauss was in pitch perfect form with her famed backers never missing a beat. If anything, her interim sidestep with Robert Plant has allowed the sometimes shy chanteuse to come out of her shell ever so slightly and charm a stage, not so much with a stroke of star power, but rather a confident range that's rarely rivaled.
Through Krauss remains the focal point behind the microphone (and sometimes the fiddle), she was quick to hand over the reigns to the supporting players with "Dust Bowl Children" fully representing everyone's finger picking prowess. Additional chemistry came on the fellow new cut "Sinking Stone," an earthy ballad that unveiled her angelic pipes across a bittersweet lyrical canvas.
In some cases, the poignant stories were just as captivating as the songs themselves, from the heartbreaking and harrowing "Ghost In This House" to the ultimate road tripper's companion "Miles To Go." Even though there was plenty of sentiment to spread, Krauss & Union Station made sure to kick up plenty of dust as well, from the fiddle-flanked hoedown "Rain Please Go Away" to the down and dirty jam "Wild Bill Jones."
An abridged but enthralling five track acoustic encore summarized all the group's best assets, though Krauss especially brought down the house with the frequently used wedding song "When You Say Nothing At All" and the spine chilling spiritual "Down To the River To Pray." It was during these booming ballads that she transcended the worlds of bluegrass, country, gospel and pop to display a bounty of vocal beauty that hasn't just earned her a trophy case of 26 Grammy Awards, but an increasingly cherished spot in the hearts of her countless followers.
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