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Jerry Douglas
The Best Kept Secret
Koch Records

If you know anything about the current bluegrass scene, then Jerry Douglas is no stranger to you. For years he has been one of the most sought after dobro players in Nashville, and has been plying his trade in Alison Krauss's Union Station for quite a while, as well. Little known to many is the fact that he has released a few solo records, collections of interpretations of the works of others, as well as his own compositions. I've always enjoyed hearing Jerry play, as he is the most masterful player of the dobro in my lifetime - possibly of all time- whether it be in a band setting or doing a few of his own solo works while on stage. I never thought I'd be disappointed with one of his records, but the first few times I listened to The Best Kept Secret, I was overwhelmingly disappointed. At first, I felt that this was merely a record the likes of Joe Satriani's Surfing With The Alien; A great guitar record, certainly, but lacking in the roots styles that I really desired to hear. After listening a few more times, and really focusing in on the music, the greatness started to come through. Mandolin master Sam Bush puts in a fantastic performance on "Who's Your Uncle" along with banjo wunderkind Bela Fleck. The track is a fast paced neo-traditional breakdown that would make the old-timers proud, and would certainly lend itself favorably to a rollicking hootenanny. "Back In Love Again" features Alison Krauss on guest vocals, and although the song is a bit more modern and rock than I would expect, it is filled with great performances. "The Best Kept Secret" covers so much ground that it is staggering - from jazzy breaks to bluegrass breakdowns and prog rock tying together moments, the song is rather enjoyable. The real highlight comes on a cover of Bob Wills' "Swing Blues No. 1" when John Fogerty lends his considerable guitar talent and gravelly vocals to create one of the finest moments in true delta-style blues I've heard all year. This track makes my list of best songs of the year, for certain; it is pure classical blues, in the traditions of some of the greatest and would stand alongside them… for not only the feel and groove of the song, but the incredible slide guitar of both Fogerty and Douglas. Also making appearances on the record are Bill Frisell, Victor Krauss, and Derek Trucks.

So it may take a while to grow on you, but The Best Kept Secret is still one of the finest guitar records I've heard in ages. Jerry Douglas ably showcases his variety of skills as both writer and performer, and brings in some incredible talent to help out on a few tracks. Sit down, give it a listen, and then listen again. Just to make sure.

-L. Keane

Track Listing:
1. She Makes Me Want To Sing * With Derek Trucks
2. Who's Your Uncle? * With Sam Bush And Bela Fleck
3. Back In Love Again * With Alison Krauss
4. A Remark You Made
5. The Best Kept Secret
6. Lil' RoRo * WIth Bill Frisell
7. Swing Blues No.1 * With John Fogerty
8. Snow's First Fall
9. Ya Ya Etc.
10. U R My Flower
11. Sir Aly B

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