Claire Lynch covers a lot of ground . Doin' Time is full of woe, the story of someone running from life and weary of the trip. Here, and at other points throughout the CD, bassist Mark Schatz uses a bow, adding a pleasant bottom end to the music though a bow-and-bass combination tends to cause some raised eyebrows at bluegrass shows. Some will argue that a bass unplucked just isn't bluegrass. On the subject of bluegrass, the only number that has a traditional bluegrass sound is the old Osborne Brothers' tune, I'll Be Alright Tomorrow. The other numbers range from acoustic ballads to the country sounds of Everybody Knows I've Been Crying.
Her literature describes her voice as angelic, which is apt, but bluegrass hardliners may hear it as too soft, without an edge. This is a clear indication that beauty is in the ear of the listener. Her music is more like a tap on the shoulder asking you to listen than a slap on your ears demanding attention.
Lynch wrote or co-wrote half the songs and is well known as a composer. How Many Moons (written with Ronnie Dunn, with Rob Ickes guesting) is a lover's lament well suited to her voice while Once The Teardrops Start To Fall has drive and country influence. Perhaps a banjo-led instrumental there in the middle would wake up the CD a bit, but these songs are more tissue soft, no sandpaper in sight, even on I'll Be Alright Tomorrow.
The title song has an interesting history. It's based on century-old letters recently discovered in a trunk, written by brothers in the Civil War to their sister back home. It's a supposition of what they might have said just before a major battle the next day, touching on the fears that all soldiers must face.
"Dear Sister" is a good acoustic-country-bluegrass CD from a respected and accomplished artist, albeit a touch on the soft side.