Although she was still in her teens, by the time of her third album for Rounder (and second solo-billed effort) in 1990, Alison had matured as an artist, and does justice to the excellent songs. produced by Bil VornDick and Jerry Douglas, the album ventures a little away from straight bluegrass incorporating country and other influences, while remaining predominantly bluegrass. Alison’s crystal-clear vocals interpret the material well, with almost every song sad in tone and most on the slower side. The quality is very high, with an emphasis on both melody and well-constructed lyrics.
Alison’s first single to country radio was the title track, a gently wistful tune about anticipating a lover’s departure. It is one of four on the album written by Sidney Cox. My favourite of these is the enchanting ‘Wish I Still Had You’, which takes up a similar story further down the line. Also very good are the closing ‘Longest Highway’ and the beautiful ‘Tonight I’ll Be Lonely Too’.
Old mentor John Pennell contributed a further trio. ‘Dark Skies’ is a confidently delivered love song. Alison shows some attitude with the fast-paced demand of ‘Will You Be Leaving’, backed by some virtuoso musicianship. In ‘One Good Reason’ she gives an ultimatum to her lover to save their relationship.
Nelson Mandrell wrote two fine songs for the record, the melancholic ‘Winter Of A Broken Heart’ and the sweet sorrow of ‘It’s Over’, which has a beautiful melody and angelic vocal.
The bright-toned ‘Endless Highway’, written by Roger Rasnake, has a more optimistic mood than much of the album, with the protagonist returning home to her loved one after a period away.
Louisa Branscomb’s train song ‘Steel Rails’ picks up the tempo and allows Alison’s fiddle and the other musician the chance to stretch out. It was the album’s second single, and managed to garner some modest airplay on country radio.
My favorite track, though, is ‘That Makes One Of Us’, a lovely sad country song about a breakup, written by Rick Bowles and Barbara Wyrick.
The album won Alison the first of her 27 Grammy Awards. It is an excellent record with no weak spots, and well worth adding to your collection.