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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Andrea Zonn
Label: Compass Records
Length: 13 tracks/51:27
This recording marks the debut for Andrea Zonn, who has been a sought-after session musician in Nashville. Her vocals and fiddle playing have appeared on many recordings including sessions with George Jones, Lyle Lovett and Alison Krauss. For this disc, Zonn is joined by her friends - Krauss on harmony vocals, Tim O’Brien on mandolin, Vince Gill and Amy Grant each adding harmony vocal to one track and Jerry Douglas, the master of the dobro.
Even with such distinguished guests, the focus of this disc is squarely on Zonn. She handled the production as well as the string arrangements for all tracks. Her fiddle work is present on most of the songs. Zonn also strengthens the string section by adding sounds from violins, violas and the chin cello. Finally, her soprano voice is a fine match for the material she has chosen for this effort.
This disc shows that Zonn has a wide range of musical interests bluegrass, Celtic, gospel and folk. She combines all of these influences in a strong selection of songs that includes titles by Karla Bonoff, Beth Nielson Chapman and Neil Finn of Crowded House. Finn’s “Better Be Home Soon” is one of the highlights as Zonn’s soaring lead vocal is framed by violins and violas, then supported by fine piano from John Jarvis.
Marcus Hummon wrote two more of the disc’s strong performances. He joins Alison Krauss on backing vocals on “Stained Glass Love”, combining with Zonn to form a mesmerizing choir. “Galilee Road” examines issues of faith punctuated by a fine vocal arrangement and a brief Zonn fiddle solo.
If a have a complaint about this recording, it would be that will all of the talented instrumentalists, the disc has very little solo space. I have to assume that Zonn chose to place the focus on the songs she selected, using the musicians in service to her arrangements and for support of the often stunning vocal work. Still, it would have been nice to hear Jerry Douglas cut loose once or twice.
Zonn has crafted an impressive package for this effort. Fans of Ms. Krauss will find much to enjoy. If you are looking for quality songs with outstanding vocal work, this disc is for you. I generally do not respond well to this type of modern, mature folk music. But Zonn won me over with her musical vision. Give her the chance to do the same with you.
Mark Thompson 5/26/03