Personnel: Bill Verdier (fiddle); John Mock (pennywhistle, bodhran, djembe); Pat McInerney (djembe); James Pendergast, Jeff Taylor .
CMH decides to take a harder look at the dozens of tribute records they do. This set, with its liner essay on the back, feels different than anything they've done since Pickin' on the Wreckers -- an instrumental collection that stood as something far better than the original album. They single out Alison Krauss as standing alone in the popular world as a practitioner of bluegrass, and that is most assuredly so. She also transcends the genre without batting an eye because she likes popular music. That said, this quintet of masterpickers -- John Mock, Pat McInerney, Bill Verdier, Jim Prendergast, and Jeff Taylor -- play a boatload of instruments between them, from penny whistles and fiddles to bouzoukis, djembes, concertinas, and banjos, to name a few, and offer excellent newly envisioned -- through the eyes of very old music -- versions of Krauss' best known tunes. The execution is anything but academic, and the subtler meanings in these tunes come off without a word being sung when hearing them in this way. The roots of not only bluegrass but much of American folk music come to life in this selection and it's is an enjoyable and enduring listen, better than most of what passes for "Celtic" music today by a long shot. Highly recommended. ~ Thom Jurek