It has recently been announced that Alison Krauss and Union Station—the biggest band in bluegrass music today—will be releasing a new album, Paper Airplane, on April 12th. This news has been greeted with much excitement from fans who have been waiting patiently since Lonely Runs Both Ways (2004) for a new full-length effort. They now eagerly anticipate the record’s release to see what musical paths this veteran group will tread. Will the remarkable critical and commercial success of the 2007 release Raising Sand, Krauss’ creative collaboration with Robert Plant, influence the course of the music Krauss makes with Union Station?
While Krauss has been known for working within the limitations of traditional bluegrass, no matter how far she might push these boundaries, it is interesting to note how much of her artistic success has been due to an apt and diverse song selection. Although Krauss and Union Station fill their set list and album repertoire with traditional bluegrass standards by the likes of Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley, they mine the fields of many musical genres to turn previously recorded tunes into newgrass masterpieces. Krauss’ past albums have included covers of the Foundations’ “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You”, the First Edition’s “But You Know I Love You”, Dan Fogelberg’s “Stars”, Woody Guthrie’s “Pastures of Plenty”, Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing At All”, and Shenandoah’s “Just a Ghost in This House”, just to name a few. Union Station often closes its live shows with a particularly rousing, jammy rendition of Bad Company’s “Oh, Atlanta”. Krauss and Plant’s Raising Sand further solidified Krauss’ reputation as a bluegrass artist exceptionally willing to explore unchartered territory. Under the guidance of veteran producer T-Bone Burnett, Krauss and Plant covered tunes by the Everly Brothers, Townes Van Zandt, Gene Clark, and Tom Waits. Notably, Krauss has stated that some of her primary musical influences include not just traditional bluegrass icons like Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs, but also figures from the rock and pop worlds, like Journey and Steely Dan.