RALPH STANLEY II
This One Is Two CD - Lonesome

The son of the bluegrass performer and high-lonesome legend, Ralph Stanley II has released his sixth disc of bluegrass stylings. The recording isn’t likely to be called a revival of the genre, and, unlike his father, Stanley is by no means a purist, despite the fact that nary an instrument heard on This One Is Two gets plugged in. Instead, while bluegrass touches abound, what this recording really speaks of is an acoustic country music that doesn’t so much reject the contemporary Nashville scene as complement it. This is also an album of covers (only two originals find their way on to the record, notably the ballad “Honky Tonk Way,” co-penned with Jake Jenkins). Some of the cover choices on This One Is Two are telling (Tom T. Hall’s “Train Songs,” Lyle Lovett’s “L.A. County,” and Fred Eaglesmith’s “Carter”), as they tip Stanley’s hand in establishing the identity of this album. But, some unexpected things surface, as well. Townes Van Zandt’s “Loretta” gets a very sympathetic reading, as does Elton John’s odd ode to his adopted state, “Georgia” (Stanley’s fine arrangement removes this song from its late 1970s pop histrionics setting and renders it nearly as a traditional).

While this disc is very well-recorded and the playing is tight, Stanley and his band never seem to break a sweat here. Everything is done down home. This One Is Two is as relaxed as a summer evening’s after supper back-porch get-together.

By Michael Meade

ralphstanleyii.com

 

 


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