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Andrea Zonn

Rise – 2015 (Compass)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Andrea Zonn

For those who habitually read liner notes, Andrea Zonn is one of those names that over the past three decades has continually popped up in the supporting casts of countless studio efforts. Since coming to Nashville as a teenager, she's been among the most in-demand session artists both as a vocalist and fiddler, and has toured extensively in the bands of headliners like Vince Gill and James Taylor, both of whom make guest appearances on "Rise," her first solo studio effort in a dozen years.

Though well known in country and bluegrass circles, her talents extend well beyond into the realms of jazz, swing and compelling music that's difficult for even the all-encompassing "Americana" label to describe. The music business is full of artists who are often more talented than some of the people they work for, and Zonn stands out as a prime example. In addition to Gill and Taylor, she's also joined on "Rise" by Sam Bush, Keb' Mo', John Cowan, Mac McAnally and Trace Adkins, and that alone should give an idea of how wide and deep her talent runs.

Though known primarily by many for her fiddle work, it's her rich, confident soprano (maybe leaning a little bit to the alto end) that jumps out on each of the 10 tracks (all co-written by Zonn). Sweet by nature, it's also capable of the playful edge of a Bonnie Raitt, and her vocal on the title track evokes the smoky, jazzy sound of Julie London at her best in the 1950s. "Where The Water Meets The Sky" (with Bush) is a good-natured country rocker, "Another Swing And A Miss" is a bouncy love tune with a "wait 'til next year" theme, and her duet with Keb' Mo' on "No Reason To Feel Good" is about as bluesy as it gets. Perhaps the most interesting track is the closer, "Ships," a story of lost souls metaphorically "passing in the night" that gives Adkins a chance to show a softer, gentler side.

As her own producer, Zonn has assembled a richly textured disc where the vocals and arrangements fit together and complement each other seamlessly, the tracks flow nicely from one to the next, yet each song stands well on its own. There's no single label to describe it - not country, not blues, not pop. It's simply an album that's fun and satisfying to listen to and enjoy.