My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Sister Sadie – ‘Sister Sadie’

sister sadieSister Sadie is a new bluegrass female supergroup/side project featuring the five-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Dale Ann Watson, supported by mandolin player/singer Tina Adair, fiddler Deanie Richardson (who was in Patty Loveless’s band for 17 years), banjo player Gena Britt, and bassist Beth Lawrence. Their debut album, for Pinecastle Records is produced by Tim Austin.

The arresting ‘Unholy Water’ (written by Richardson with Bill Tennyson) opens the album with the anthropomorphised confessional of a bottle of moonshine whiskey:

The devil’s own daughter
Quenching the thirst of the damned
I am unholy water

Dale Ann Bradley takes the lead vocal on this song, as she does on three others. The gospel tune ‘Look What I’m Trading For A Mansion’ is a sweetly sentimental tale of an aged mother on her deathbed, and Bradley gives it a tender reading. The 1970s Dolly Parton hit ‘All I Can Do’ is bright and upbeat (incidentally the liner notes give the songwriting credits for a different song of the same name), but is the least essential of Bradley’s lead vocals here. Her cover of ‘Blood Red And Going Down’ was far more interesting, counterpointing the essential sweetness of Dale Ann’s voice with the dark dramatic lyric.

I hadn’t previously heard Tina Adair, but I am very impressed with her singing here. She takes the lead on a lovely version of country classic ‘Don’t Let Me Cross Over’, presenting the protagonist as sober and determined not to fall to temptation. She is also effective bringing real emotional weight to the sentimental tribute to a beloved mother, ‘Mama’s Room’, written by Harley Allen. She also sings two self-penned tunes, which are quite good, the up-tempo kiss-off ‘Not This Time’, and the wailing ‘Now Forever’s Gone’.

Gena Britt takes over on the pacy banjo-driven ‘Don’t Tell Me Stories’ (written by another leading lady of bluegrass, Lynn Morris), addressed to a lover whose fidelity is doubted. She also sings the lead on a cover of the minor-keyed ‘I May Be A Fool’, previously recorded by Mark Chesnutt.

‘Falling’ is a 70s pop song given a bluegrass makeover, with Beth Lawrence singing, but it doesn’t quite work for me, and is one of the album’s few missteps. Deanie Richardson does not sing, but her instrumental talents are showcased on ‘Ava’s Fury’, a tune inspired by the tantrum of her young stepdaughter.

This is a very enjoyable album, with a fine selection of songs all impeccably sung and played.

Grade: A

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