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Pretty Girls, City Lights

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Album Review

The Ralph Stanley name has got to be quite a burden for a young bluegrass singer, but Ralph Stanley II (who plays guitar and sings with his father's band, the Clinch Mountain Boys) continues to bear it gracefully on his second solo album. His voice, a rich, relaxed baritone, couldn't be more different from his father's, and in fact it's a pretty unusual lead voice for bluegrass in general. But it does bear some resemblance to that of his late uncle Carter, and that gives an eerie beauty to the songs on which he and his father sing in harmony, such as "Pretty Girls, City Lights" and "I'll Just Catch a Train and Ride." The elder Stanley's hard, brittle banjo (which we seem to be hearing less and less with his own band these days) is a definite plus here, as are the guest appearances by singers John Rigsby (especially on the gorgeous "The Angels Are Singing") and Russell Moore. Members of the Clinch Mountain Boys provide the backup on most songs. Very nice.


Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Imagine having to live up to a father's legacy that includes 55 years spent at the top of a very public profession, plus more than 100 recordings. Those are some huge shoes to fill when the father is Ralph Stanley, a bluegrass giant who simply shines on the banjo. His son, Ralph Stanley II, aka "Two," no doubt suffered from a fair share of apprehension when he decided to become a musician, too. As he began his own solo career, however, his recordings made his journey seem almost effortless. Critics...
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Pretty Girls, City Lights, Ralph Stanley II
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