Jerry Douglas: Glide

The world's best dobro player strikes again with an album of instrumentals ranging from classic bluegrass to wild New Orleans jazz.

Jerry Douglas


Label: Koch
US Release Date: 2008-08-19
UK Release Date: Available as import

If it's got strings, Jerry Douglas can play it. Hell, he'd probably be able to make music by strumming your shoestrings -- that is, if you could stop tapping your foot to his 12th solo release, Glide. In between solo releases, he's recorded with everyone from Ray Charles to Garth Brooks, and has spent the last decade as the dobro player for bluegrass supergroup Alison Krauss and Union Station. And, of course, let's not forget his participation in the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, which turned thousands onto bluegrass and old time music.

For those with short attention spans and/or the obnoxious tendency to sing along, instrumental tracks can be a little boring. And unless you are Miles Davis, cutting an entire album of instrumentals always runs the risk of becoming merely background noise, with nothing to distinguish it from elevator music. However, instrumentals are clearly where Douglas' strengths lie. He can say more in one dobro lick than an entire stable of thesaurus-toting Nashville songwriters churning out paint-by-number, radio-friendly hits for whatever interchangeable blondie is on the charts that week. The two tracks which feature sung lyrics serve mainly to highlight the superb musicianship of Douglas and his band. Far from being elevator music, Douglas et al genre-hop from bluegrass to modern country to New Orleans jazz, sounding perfectly at home in each style.

On several tracks, Douglas enlists the help of some A-list pals. Travis Tritt lends his twangy baritone to a catchy, surprisingly upbeat song about debilitating drug addiction, "A Marriage Made in Hollywood", once again proving that he is the most underrated and under-recognized "big name" country singer out there. If Toby Keith or Brad Paisley had the guts to sing this one, it'd be burning up the charts. If anything, "A Marriage Made in Hollywood" should become the de facto theme song for various celebrity trainwrecks and our sense of schadenfreude in said trainwrecks: "We all love tragedy / And it loves us too."

Rodney Crowell performs his song "A Long Hard Road", typical country fare about hard-luck folk, but with Crowell's ear toward catchy, neotraditionalist turns of phrase. It's probably Crowell's best vocal work since his duet with Roseanne Cash, "It's Such a Small World", and the rich backing vocals of Douglas and Carmella Ramsey give the track depth.

Douglas also teams with Earl Scruggs and guitarist Tony Rice for a little slice of bluegrass heaven: a version of "Home Sweet Home", a cut from seminal bluegrass record Foggy Mountain Banjo. Though Douglas can play myriad other styles, it's bluegrass where he shines. On "Home Sweet Home", his enthusiasm is tangible and infectious... the two living legends he's playing with aren't half bad themselves. This track alone is worth the price of the album; it's such a treat to hear these three incredibly talented and innovative musicians offer a fresh take on a classic song.

Glide visits the other side of the American music spectrum with the album's best track, "Sway", a lively, Mardi Gras-style march -- minus the drunken revelers and topless women. Whether this makes the song better or worse is entirely the opinion of the listener. Nevertheless, it's a downloading must.

Diehard bluegrass fans and country traditionalists may not take to this album. After all, Douglas' genre-bending and use of drums and horns is anything but traditional bluegrass. But those who can rise above their snobbish tendencies (sorry, hipsters, you've got nothing on bluegrassers when it comes to music snobbery) are in for a real treat.






Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.


Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.


Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.