[16 March 2007]
Catch Tomorrow is a near perfect album of traditional bluegrass from a Kentucky mountain gal whose family stuck an antenna up in an oak tree so they could watch Dolly Parton on The Porter Wagoner Show. And just like her buxom role model’s, Dale Ann Bradley’s career is a rags-to-riches tale. It has seen her go from a rural upbringing, where electricity and running water were not available until she was in high school, to national acclaim in the U.S. fronting the New Coon Creek Girls. On her third solo outing, Bradley’s crystal clear vocals kick up a storm on a diverse collection of songs that include a grassed-up version of southern soul singer Ann Peebles’s 1973 hit “I Can’t Stand the Rain” and a collaboration with Irish band Lúnasa on the uillean-pipe-driven bluegrass-fling “When the Mist Comes Again”. Elsewhere, the singer/songwriter is joined by a country dream team that offers up duets with Marty Raybon (“Holding on to Nothing”) and Larry Sparks (“Pass Me Not”), while guest harmony vocals are provided by, among others, Jim Lauderdale on both the Billy Joe Shaver tune “Live Forever” and a loving rendition of Kris Kristofferson’s classic “Me and Bobby McGee”. But it’s the handful of story-songs that yield the most pleasure on this excellent record, such as the blazing banjo-and-fiddle duel on murder ballad “Rita Mae”, the ode to a rusted-out 1950 Chevy, “Memories, Miles and Tears”, and the self-penned “Run, Rufus Run”, a true story about her young cousin runnin’ shine with the singular line “A boy’s no match for the shot gun blast from the gun of a revenue man”. Heart-rending, joyous, and kick-ass in equal measure.