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Issue: June 2009

Awesome' Bluegrass from the Hills of Kentucky

Don't Turn Your Back (Compass Records)
Dale Ann Bradley

By Bob Mitchell

Dale Ann Bradley, two-time and current International Bluegrass Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year, displays remarkable vocal range on her latest release, Don't Turn Your Back. A former Coon Creek Girl and daughter of a Baptist preacher from the hills of Kentucky, Bradley grew up in a self-described "backwoods holler" on a rural road where electricity and running water weren't available until she was in high school (not unlike many of the first generation of bluegrass artists). Her "close to the ground" environment is evident in convincing heartfelt vocals.

Ricky Skaggs says Bradley is an "awesome singer" and this reviewer agrees. Her unique ability to wrap her voice and soul around the lyrics and melody allows her to step into someone else's life making their story her song. Whether on stage or on a recording, she invests her whole heart and soul in every song.

Courage is the underlying theme for her latest effort. Even the title track calls for giving life's highway one more chance. A short list of musical highlights includes her cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Over My Head", Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down", a poignant "Anybody Else's Heart But Mine," and the touching "Will I Be Good Enough".

True to her daughter-of-a-preacher roots, "Don't Turn Your Back" contains three first rate gospel numbers: the lighthearted "Rusty Old Halo", The Carter Family classic "Fifty Miles of Elbow Room", and the time-honored "Heaven", with help from IBMA Entertainers of the Year Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent. Other guests include Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Deanie Richardson (fiddle), Alison Brown (banjo), Gena Britt (banjo), Steve Gulley (vocals), Mike Bub (bass), and Claire Lynch (harmony vocal). Stuart Duncan's fiddle and Alison Brown's banjo were especially impressive.

For more information go to .www.compassrecords.com

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