Alan Jackson sang about the rock musicians who "discovered" their country roots in "Gone Country." Now it seems country stars are discovering their bluegrass roots. Some deservedly can (Dolly Parton, Vince Gill). In the case of Lynn Anderson, it feels artificial. She was a rodeo singer, not a bluegrasser. She seems to be searching for new markets since she can't get airplay on country stations these days.
She leads off with one of her country hits - and that's still what it sounds like, albeit with a banjo added. (Nashville rules: anything with a steel guitar is country and apparently anything with a banjo is bluegrass.) She then swings into one of the most overworked songs in bluegrass, "Rocky Top." It's great to hear when Bobby O. sings it, but Anderson should have skipped it. Later she does those old bluegrass standards, "Under the Boardwalk" and "Cry" which come after "Rose Garden." A pattern seems to be emerging. Del McCoury or Mountain Heart might do "Boardwalk" and have fun with it but it doesn't say much here for these "bluegrass" sessions. There's a gesture with "Paradise," but obviously speed equals bluegrass - they just forgot about soul.
The pickers and picking are topnotch, and Anderson sounds great. It is a very good CD to listen to, and many of the songs sound better with acoustic instruments than over-produced electric instruments. The rub for most purchasers of bluegrass music is that it is labeled bluegrass. (DM)