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Ralph Stanley

Ralph Stanley

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Album Review

The undisputed modern patriarch of bluegrass, Ralph Stanley is presented starkly and honestly on this self-titled 2002 album. Similar in sound and execution to Johnny Cash and Rick Rubin's American Recordings, Ralph Stanley presents the 75-year-old vocalist in a bare-bones environment with only minimal musical accompaniment, highlighting his careworn voice without any studio trickery or noticeable overdubs. Assisted by the incomparable Norman Blake on guitar, Stuart Duncan on banjo, Mike Compton on mandolin, and bassist Dennis Crouch, the arrangements are never intrusive on Stanley's voice, allowing his natural tenor to creak and crag through ten classic ballads and one new original. Highlights include the gritty murder ballads "Henry Lee" and "Little Mathie Grove," and the bright harmonies from members of the Cox Family on the Hank Williams gospel number "Calling You." Country musicians may have lined up around the block to be involved with this project, but luckily, producer and folk aficionado T-Bone Burnett kept the raw power of Stanley's voice unencumbered by chorus after chorus of guest vocalist, making for a more straightforward and powerful final work. Unfortunately for some listeners, the years of performing have worn deep lines not only in his face, but in his voice as well. Anyone expecting the sharp, high-lonesome sound of "How Mountain Girls Can Love" and "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms" may be disappointed at the sound of the septuagenarian's old bones croaking together, but anyone who can appreciate the stark purity of honest American folk music will hold this album close to their hearts.

Customer Reviews

Ralph stanly

You must listen to this top draw , love it

Biography

Born: 25 February 1927 in Stratton, VA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Born in Stratton, Virginia in 1927, Ralph Stanley and his older brother Carter formed the Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys. In 1946 Ralph and Carter were being broadcast from radio station WCYB in Bristol, Virginia. The music, which was inspired by their Virginia mountain home, was encouraged by their mother, who taught Ralph the clawhammer style of banjo picking. They recorded for such companies as the small Rich-R-Tone label and later Columbia, a relationship that lasted from 1949...
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Ralph Stanley, Ralph Stanley
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