Alison Krauss and Union Station - New Favorite (2001)
Alison Krauss certainly has gotten respect from critics, the Grammy Awards, and fellow musicians who know a thing or five about making good music, such as Robert Plant, but the rest of the world needs to love Alison Krauss a lot more than they do. Her voice is pure and nearly without peer, and she is one of the better violin players you will hear in bluegrass or anywhere else. But everything that truly separates Krauss from most others is showcased on the amazing New Favorite.
This album might have been overshadowed by other Krauss music, however. The record came out the same year as the soundtrack and movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou? That album sold millions of copies and helped some get to know Krauss's sound, but the soundtrack may have also done a disservice to New Favorite. While people were loving Krauss on O Brother, they were missing her excellence on the other album.
This is not a classic bluegrass album. There is as much folk as country. Many of the songs are tinged with at least a little bit of darkness as if you are entering a haunted house with some of the most beautiful music you will ever hear. But there are also enough melancholy love songs to keep your faith in humanity going.
Some standouts on the record include "The Lucky One" (where Krauss's voice just seems to float along in space), "I'm Gone," and the title track. There is a certain bravery to ending a record with the song "New Favorite." The only bluegrass to the track is the steel guitar, but otherwise, its somberness could be the basis for a black metal song.