The Bluegrass Sessions
DM Records DMR 41382 | Released September 2004 | Peak Chart Position: n/a
Lynn with Dad, Casey Anderson
THE LINER NOTES
Conceived by producer and arranger Bill VornDick in the wake of the Hayseed Dixie phenomenon, ‘The Bluegrass Sessions’ comes as close to a concept album as Lynn Anderson ever recorded. Thirteen of her biggest hits completely reimagined as ‘grass. But the concept was not limited to the music. Every aspect of this 32nd LP reveals a different Lynn Anderson; stripped down and natural, from the cover shot to the raw and acoustic timbre of her voice…listening to this LP feels like peeling away the layered veneer of the music that made her a star, and the excess that came with it, and cutting down to the quick of her talent, and to her heart as a singer.
While the concept works on most levels, not all the tracks lend themselves as well to the transposition as others. And some you come away from wondering why in the hell the song wasn’t cut bluegrass to begin with. They’re that good…that clear. Her ’73 hit on Richard Carpenter’s “Top Of The World” is all but unrecognizable here, yet wholly believable with a dobro, fiddle and mandolin replacing a string section. And mom Liz Anderson’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, a mother’s lesson to her daughter, loses none of the charm and lyrical play of Lynn’s ’68 hit; on the contrary, older and wiser now, the lesson of the song is no longer hers to learn, but hers to hand down to her own daughters.
And while it might be a given; a foregone conclusion that this 2005 release include the song that changed pop music, country music, and Lynn Anderson’s life forever, the decision to add “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden” to this unconventional, progressive collection was nothing short of brilliant. Where countrypolitan giant Glenn Sutton surrounded Lynn in lush instrumental layer after lush instrumental layer on the original 1970 crossover monster, VornDick has framed her unalloyed, elemental vocal with a minimalist arrangement that has radically changed the entire dynamic of the song, giving it a raw energy that Joe South might never have envisioned.
Edgy, hip, and totally off the Cool-O-Meter, ‘The Bluegrass Sessions’ ranks as one of Lynn Anderson’s top artistic achievements…and one of her greatest standalone LP’s.
J Buck Ford
"What a Man My Man Is" / "Rocky Top" / "How Can I Unlove You" / "Rose Garden" / "Paradise" / "That's a No No" / "Under the Boardwalk" / "Ride, Ride, Ride" / "If I Kiss You (Will You Go Away?)"
"Top of the World" / "Big Girls Don't Cry" / "The Worst Is Yet to Come"