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O Sister 2: A Women's Bluegrass Collection

O Sister 2: A Women's Bluegrass Collection

5.0 1
Once as rare a sight as J-Lo in a burqa, women have been assuming a higher profile in bluegrass since Alison Krauss arrived on the scene in 1987. Men still dominate, but O Sister proves women have made contributions every bit as important as those of male artists in the past decade. The 19 cuts here


Once as rare a sight as J-Lo in a burqa, women have been assuming a higher profile in bluegrass since Alison Krauss arrived on the scene in 1987. Men still dominate, but O Sister proves women have made contributions every bit as important as those of male artists in the past decade. The 19 cuts here show a remarkable diversity of styles under the contemporary bluegrass rubric while also demonstrating each artist's solid sense of the music's roots. Wilma Lee Cooper's remorseless scolding of the man who done her wrong on "You Tried to Ruin My Name" typifies an adherence to a more rustic style that not only serves her well but also provides a compelling template for Delia Bell's heartbreaking waltz, "Sad Situation," and Lynn Morris's warm reading of Hazel Dickens's sepia-toned reminiscence, "Mama's Hand." Dickens shows off her own robust pipes on her rousing kiss-off song, "I Can't Find Your Love Any More," and on a stunning duet with Alice Gerrard of Bill Monroe's lowdown "True Life Blues." Rhonda Vincent, Alison Krauss, and the Cox Family represent a contemporary rethinking of the ancient tones by embracing pop arrangements and production, but it's done so subtly as to be almost subliminal in effect. The Cox Family's yearning, lilting spiritual, "Will There Be Any Stars?," rides easy on the graceful, western-style twin fiddling of producer Alison Krauss and the Family's Andrea Zonn and the stark banjo solos of Union Station's Ron Block supporting Suzanne Cox's fragile, expressive lead vocal. Vincent tears down the house on her "Lonesome Wind Blues," with its engaging instrumental byplay and high-lonesome harmonizing on the tuneful choruses. Krauss is a constant presence -- her impact apparent in the signature sound other artists have adopted -- as a producer as well as an artist. In the latter role she's represented by one of her most memorable recordings, "Every Time You Say Goodbye" (from the like-titled album), but in a real sense O Sister is all about what Alison Krauss has wrought. Claire Lynch, Suzanne Thomas, Kathy Kallick with Laurie Lewis, Lynn Morris, the Stevens Sisters, Ginny Hawker and Carol Elizabeth Jones, and Phyllis Boyens round out the lineup, and there isn't a bad song or an ill-considered turn of phrase to be heard among 'em. Makes a man want to holler, "O brother!"

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
The follow-up to 2001's O Sister! women's bluegrass collection -- easily one of the year's best albums -- O Sister 2 lives up to its predecessor's high standard, and then some. Vocally, instrumentally, stylistically, and philosophically, the women featured here boast an adventurous spirit within a traditional bluegrass framework without sounding self-consciously old-timey or icily academic. That's as true for a staunch traditionalists such as the gritty North Carolinian Olabelle Reed on her rustic "High on a Mountain" as it is for the brilliant modern alchemist Alison Krauss, who turns in a deep and beautiful duet with Suzanne Cox on "Jewels," an exquisite exposition of the glories of the afterlife. Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard's Old West fable, "Montana Cowboy," is energized by some atmospheric, anxiety-riddled fiddling (by Tracy Schwarz) that would make Bernard Hermann proud, and in another of many instrumental highlights, the Wayfaring Strangers back Lucy Kaplansky and Jennifer Kimball's keening harmonies on "Memories of You" with some jazzy riffing that suggests a Middle Eastern melody. But really, the story is great voices singing powerful, haunting songs straight from some deep place in the collective human heart. With exemplary performances from Rhonda Vincent, Hazel Dickens (on three cuts), Wilma Lee Cooper, Tanya Savory, and Jeannie Kendall, this collection cuts deep and doesn't settle for merely providing a good time. It also aims to be meaningful, with songs boasting big themes and performances marked by conviction of purpose. Live with this one, and it'll light a path somewhere down the road.
All Music Guide - Rick Anderson
The latest in a lengthening string of releases designed to benefit from association with the Coen brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? is this all-girl bluegrass compilation, which features on its cover the requisite stubbly cornfield and archaic font style. Opportunistic as the packaging may be, there's no arguing with the quality of the content. Generously packed with outstanding performances by women as stylistically disparate as Hazel Dickens, Claire Lynch, and Kathy Kallick, O Sister is a delightful celebration of several generations of criminally unheralded female bluegrass artists. The highlights are many, but particular standout tracks include Rhonda Vincent's rocking "Lonesome Wind Blues," the hard-edged mountain sound of Phyllis Boyens (backed up by Hazel Dickens and the Johnson Mountain Boys), and the clawhammer banjo-powered "Comin' Down From God" by the relatively unknown Carol Elizabeth Jones. The usual suspects are here too, of course, including Alison Krauss (on the exquisitely gentle and sweet "Every Time You Say Goodbye") and the Cox Family (twice). You might buy this one because you feel guilty about the way women have been neglected in the bluegrass world, but you'll keep coming back to it because the songs are just so dang good.

Product Details

Release Date:
Rounder / Umgd


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Tony Furtado   Banjo
Kathy Kallick   Guitar,Vocals
Alison Krauss   Fiddle,Vocals
Laurie Lewis   Bass,Fiddle,Vocals
Rhonda Vincent   Mandolin,Vocals
Hazel Dickens   Bass,Vocals
Mike Seeger   Mandolin
Todd Phillips   Vocals,String Bass
Barry Mitterhoff   Mandolin
Wilma Lee Cooper   Guitar,Vocals
Tom Adams   Banjo
Phyllis Boyens   Vocals
Bill Grant   Vocals
Delia Bell   Vocals
Lynn Morris   Guitar,Vocals
Cox Family   Track Performer
Claire Lynch   Vocals
Barry Bales   Acoustic Bass
Ron Block   Banjo,Guitar
Ronnie Bowman   Electric Bass,Vocals
Stanley Brown   Banjo
Dudley Connell   Guitar,Vocals
Carolee Cooper   Vocals
Evelyn Cox   Vocals
Sidney Cox   Vocals
Suzanne Cox   Vocals
Stuart Duncan   Fiddle
Alice Gerrard   Guitar,Vocals
Lamar Grier   Banjo
Mike Hartgrove   Fiddle
Ginny Hawker   Vocals
Rob Ickes   Dobro
Carol Elizabeth Jones   Vocals
Pete Kennedy   Guitar
Michael McLain   Banjo
David McLaughlin   Mandolin
Marc Pruett   Banjo
John Reischman   Mandolin
Tom Rozum   Mandolin,Vocals
Tracy Schwarz   Fiddle
Sammy Shelor   Banjo
Ronnie Simpkins   Acoustic Bass
Terry Smith   Bass,Vocals
Adam Steffey   Mandolin
Eddie Stubbs   Fiddle
Clarence "Tater" Tate   Fiddle
Suzanne Thomas   Guitar,Vocals
Richard Underwood   Banjo
Jeff White   Guitar
Marshall Wilborn   Bass
Gene Wooten   Dobro,Vocals
Wayne Benson   Mandolin
Don Rigsby   Mandolin,Vocals
Larry Robbins   Bass
Darrin Vincent   Bass
Missy Raines   Bass
Beth Stevens   Banjo,Vocals
Bryan Sutton   Guitar
Ron Stewart   Fiddle,Mandolin
Jim Hurst   Guitar,Vocals
Mary Gibbons   Guitar,Vocals
Douglas Stevens   Vocals
Kenny Smith   Guitar
Stevens Sisters   Track Performer
Larry Lynch   Mandolin,Background Vocals
Roger Williams   Dobro
April Stevens   Vocals

Technical Credits

Kathy Kallick   Composer
Laurie Lewis   Composer
Bill Monroe   Composer
Hazel Dickens   Composer
Pee Wee King   Composer
Jesse McReynolds   Composer
John Pennell   Composer
Wayne Raney   Composer
John Reischman   Composer
Gretchen Peters   Composer
Marty Godbey   Liner Notes
Public Domain   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Clyde Pitts   Composer

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O Sister 2: A Women's Bluegrass Collection 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm 16 years old, and I wasn't really a fan of bluegrass until the O' Brother movie, even though I grew up around it. Now I'm upset that I've never really stopped to listen to it! This is a GREAT CD!!! It's one of my new favorites. Anyone who likes bluegrass will love this!!