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Don't Turn Your Back

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Album Review

There was a time when an album like this would have been automatically branded "progressive" bluegrass, what with all the melodic banjo playing and the inclusion of songs by Fleetwood Mac ("Over My Head") and Tom Petty ("I Won't Back Down"). But Dale Ann Bradley makes even the most rockish source material sound like it was steeped in Appalachian spring water. And when she wraps her golden vocal cords around old-time material like the gospel evergreen "Heaven" (which features guest vocals by Darrin Vincent and Quicksilver alumnus Jamie Dailey) or the traditional "Blue Eyed Boy," she makes creaky old songs sound new. A couple of songs might take you aback with their subject matter: "Will I Be Good Enough" graphically captures both the joy and the terror of the first-time parent; "Music City Queen" is a Bradley original that addresses the perils of trying to make one's name in Nashville's notoriously cutthroat music scene; the Tom Petty cover is given a suitably defiant interpretation, and the title track seems almost mischievously ambiguous — is it a plea or a subtle threat? Her accompanists are worth noting: it's always a pleasure to hear Alison Brown stretching out in a bluegrass context, and Stuart Duncan contributes not only his usual stellar fiddle playing but also some very nice clawhammer on "Blue Eyed Boy."


Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Bluegrass/Americana artist Dale Ann Bradley, who has released albums both as a solo artist and with the New Coon Creek Girls, is known for her distinctive, gentle vocal phrasing and covers of popular (yet non-genre-related) songs by artists such as U2, Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Croce, and Stealer's Wheel. She grew up in southeastern Kentucky and has lived in the bluegrass state for most of her life; her father was a coal miner and Baptist minister. Bradley auditioned unsuccessfully for the New Coon...
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