Gaining Wisdom

Gaining Wisdom

by Donna Hughes
     
 

On this auspicious debut, North Carolina native singer-songwriter-pianist Donna Hughes gets vocal support from Alison Krauss (who has recorded Hughes's "My Poor Old Heart"), Rhonda Vincent, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Sonya Isaacs, and is backed by a formidable band featuring producer/lead guitarist Tony Rice, Rob Ickes (dobro), Sam Bush (mandolin), Mike Bub (bass),… See more details below

Overview

On this auspicious debut, North Carolina native singer-songwriter-pianist Donna Hughes gets vocal support from Alison Krauss (who has recorded Hughes's "My Poor Old Heart"), Rhonda Vincent, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Sonya Isaacs, and is backed by a formidable band featuring producer/lead guitarist Tony Rice, Rob Ickes (dobro), Sam Bush (mandolin), Mike Bub (bass), and Ron Stewart (fiddle), among others. These artists don't just show up for anyone, so attention must be paid. Indeed, even with these all-stars on her team, Hughes never loses the spotlight. Singing in a sturdy contralto with the slightest of nasal twangs, she hits the heart of each song dead on. Her filigreed piano stylings betray an intimate knowledge of Baptist hymns. As a writer, her lyrics cut deep into the marrow of the human experience, whether she's engaged in a tender, winsome reminiscence of her grandmother's instructive letters to her (the gentle shuffle "Letters") or torching an ex in a withering post-breakup reality check, "Not Anymore.” Amid these songs about family, home, and ne'er-do-wells comes a powerful account, sung so folksy but with palpable outrage, about the treatment of Native Americans in North Carolina, "Talking to the Wind." Slipping neatly into this potent mix is a shuffling bluegrass treatment of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," with Hughes giving it a discreet Appalachian tint that feels right. Making nary a misstep, Donna Hughes makes a helluva first impression.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Rick Anderson
Singer and songwriter Donna Hughes makes her national debut with this very enjoyable album, Gaining Wisdom, produced by guitar legend Tony Rice and featuring a stellar cast of sidemen who include mandolinist Sam Bush, dobro player Rob Ickes and fiddler Ron Stewart, among others. The lineup might lead you to expect a relatively straightforward bluegrass album, but what you get is something quite a bit more complex -- a really quite modern country album played on acoustic instruments, some of the songs (notably a fun arrangement of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" and the modern but old-fashioned "Where Are You Darlin'?") heading off into traditional bluegrass territory but many others exploring more contemporary country styles. Hughes' voice is lovely, she's a very talented songwriter, and the arrangements are wonderful -- the only thing one might complain about on this album is a certain emotional flatness in her delivery. When she sings "What I'm Looking For," it doesn't actually sound like she's been looking all that hard, and the hard-luck portrait "Bottom of a Glass" is sung in a strangely jaunty manner. Her affect seems just a bit off through most of the record, but it's still a very enjoyable listen and a promising debut.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/27/2007
Label:
Rounder / Umgd
UPC:
0011661055421
catalogNumber:
610554
Rank:
167763

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Donna Hughes   Primary Artist,Piano
Alison Krauss   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Tony Rice   Guitar
Wyatt Rice   Rhythm Guitar
Rhonda Vincent   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Sam Bush   Mandolin
Mike Bub   Bass
Mary Chapin Carpenter   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Rob Ickes   Dobro
Carl Jackson   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Rickie Simpkins   Mandolin
Tim Stafford   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Guest Appearance
Scott Vestal   Banjo
Wayne Benson   Mandolin
Sonya Isaacs   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
Lona Heid   Vocal Harmony
Ron Stewart   Fiddle
Alecia Nugent   Vocal Harmony,Guest Appearance
John Carroll   Vocal Harmony

Technical Credits

Tony Rice   Producer,Liner Notes,Author,Audio Production
Cyndi Lauper   Composer
Barry Bales   Liner Notes
Mary Chapin Carpenter   Author
Rob Hyman   Composer
Tim Stafford   Composer
Steve Chandler   Engineer
Donna Hughes   Composer,Liner Notes

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