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Dale Ann Bradley

Dale Ann Bradley – 2017 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Fred Frawley

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CDs by Dale Ann Bradley

Dale Anne Bradley is sui generis, a rare talent that imprints her own sound whilst adapting to the traditional bluegrass form. Bradley has a rich tone, a breathless Southern phrasing and a gift for telling a story in her songs. "Dale Ann Bradley" features but two songs ("Southern Memories" and "Now and Then (Dreams Do Come True)," co-written with Jon Weisberger) written by Bradley herself, but her choice of material is flawless, matching her voice with the temperament of bluegrass music.

Lenny LeBlanc and Ava Aldridge's "Champagne Lady" fits Bradley like a glove, telling the story of strong will and misdirected loyalty. Bradley's characteristic phrasing ("Louisiana" is invariably enunciated as "Loozeeanna") catches the song in the pocket of pathos and pride. Bud Chambers' "One More River". an up-tempo gospel number speaks to the writer and singer's faith. So, too, Charles A. Tindley's early 20th century gospel tune "Stand By Me" is fresh in Bradley's voice.

Bradley has called on a strong collection of sidemen (and women). She duets with Vince Gill on "I'll Just Go Away," a Carter Stanley staple. Charley Cushman's counterpoint banjo on this song adds a layer to an already sweet combination. Bradley has a good ear for banjo players; Greg Davis trickles in and out of cuts, and Alison Brown contributes to "Blackberry Summer," yet another paean to the Southern life. Casey Campbell swoops in and out of several tracks with characteristically smooth mandolin licks.

Stanley gets further treatment on "Our Last Goodbye," as does Conway Twitty on "If You Were Mine To Lose." The fiddle lead-in, and Dobro rhythm on "To Lose," coupled with Bradley's strong vocal let the listener know that Bradley is a direct descendent of the days before country music was all about beer, weed and loose women.

Dale Ann Bradley is blessed with a beautiful instrument, and "Dale Ann Bradley" displays it with flair and feeling.