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One Step Ahead

Rhonda Vincent

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Album Review

Rhonda Vincent has so adeptly incorporated the sparkling production of the best contemporary bluegrass recordings with the heartfelt songwriting and passionate playing of the classic era of traditional bluegrass that her third album for Rounder hits that almost perfect balance: updated enough to not sound stuffy, but faithful enough to still sound honest. The leadoff track, "Kentucky Borderline," is an ol' fashioned train song along the lines of "Orange Blossom Special" or "Wabash Cannonball," and the title track (a duet with guest vocalist Alison Krauss) takes reverent cues from the Del McCoury Band in its tight harmonies and laid-back, bluesy solos. In context, the divorce-through-the-eyes-of-a-child song "Caught in the Crossfire" is only slightly maudlin, and the blistering trucker tribute "Ridin' the Red Line" is sung with such amphetamine-fueled conviction that very few female country singers could pull it off convincingly, but Vincent has the range (and the Rage) to perform both the dewy-eyed "Crossfire" and the fiery "Red Line" back to back. The group's warm, a cappella rendition of "Fishers of Men" is reminiscent of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver's best gospel work, and their 20-second rip through the Martha White Flour song is a sly nod to Flatt & Scruggs and any other picker who has exchanged their music for a quick sponsorship to all of the "Health and Happiness" tonics throughout the years. Highlighted throughout by breakup waltzes, makeup stompers, '40s train songs, '70s trucker songs, and up-to-the-minute acoustic folk numbers, One Step Ahead is all over the place thematically, but right on the money stylistically.

Biography

Born: July 13, 1962 in Kirksville, MO

Genre: Country

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

Bluegrass vocalist and fiddler Rhonda Vincent began her professional music career at the age of five, playing drums with her family's band, the Sally Mountain Show. She picked up the mandolin at eight and the fiddle at ten, performing with the family band at festivals on weekends. After appearing on TNN's nationally televised You Can Be a Star program in her mid-twenties, Vincent struck out on her own, singing with the Grand Ole Opry's Jim Ed Brown, eventually leading to a deal with Rebel Records....
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One Step Ahead, Rhonda Vincent
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