Rhonda Vincent

Back Home Again – 1999 (Rounder)

Reviewed by John Lupton

After a series of Rebel releases in the '80's that featured her clear, powerful voice against a backdrop of bluegrass and classic country arrangements, Rhonda Vincent took a shot at Nashville stardom in the mid-1990's with a pair of releases for Giant that, while critically praised, didn't do well enough on the charts to suit the label, so after parting from Giant, she formed her own band, the Rage, and threw herself back into the bluegrass circuit. The title of her new disc is as symbolic as it is aesthetic - she's back where she belongs, and opening the bluegrass year with an immediate contender for the inevitable year-end "Best of..." lists.

Vincent's choice of material emphasizes that the boundary perceived by somebetween "bluegrass" and "country" is mostly imaginary. From the opener, Wayne Raney's "Lonesome Wind Blues," she cruises through the works of Jimmy Martin, the Louvin Brothers and more, hitting her stride with a ripping version of "Jolene" that rivals the original by her good friend Dolly Parton. First rate songs, top notch production and one of the best pure country voices around make this a real keeper.