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.
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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