Scott Gargan, Staff Writer CT Post Published 07:46 p.m., Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Had it really been that long?
It was hard for Dan Tyminski to believe, but when Alison Krauss and Union Station returned to the studio in 2010, six years had passed since the band had recorded its last album, "Lonely Runs Both Ways."
"In some ways, it didn't feel like we had taken any time apart," Tyminski, the singer, guitarist and mandolin player, said during an interview last week.
After all, the band has spent the better part of the last two and a half decades performing and recording as a unit. Just like old friends, whose bond outlasts distance and time, they picked up right where they had left off.
"It was as if nothing had changed," Tyminski added. "Well, maybe we all looked a little older."
Fans of the bluegrass megastars will have the chance to see Alison Krauss and Union Station back together when the band performs at Mountain Park in Holyoke this Sunday, July 24th.
Following a hiatus that saw the members of AKUS pursue various solo and side projects (the most notable being "Raising Sand," Krauss' Grammy-winning collaboration with Robert Plant), the group reunited to record new material at Sound Emporium Studios and the House of Blues in Nashville, Tenn.
The result was the band's fifth studio album (Krauss' 11 overall), "Paper Airplane." The 11-track record, which features cover versions of Jackson Browne's "My Opening Farewell" and the title track written by AKUS mainstay Robert Lee Castleman, was Krauss' first No. 1 album on the Billboard Top Country Albums.
But despite the commercial success, the creation of the album didn't go so smoothly at first. After recording an initial batch of songs, the band listened back to the tracks and realized "we didn't have everything we needed for the album to be complete," Tyminski said.
"We've spent a lot of time playing together. That's the easy part," he said. "But something was missing from the song selection. It took a few weeks for us to go back and find some more material" -- including Castleman's track, which the band instantly fell in love with -- "to complete the journey and vision for the record."
Once the song selection was complete, "everything just clicked," said Tyminski, who is known for his updated version of the song "Man of Constant Sorrow," which was featured in the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
The record finds the band taking on a somber tone, with melancholic tunes focusing on themes of hardship and determination. Krauss' voice is at once angelic and heart-rending as she belts out lyrics concerning lost love. "Dust Bowl Children," a wrenching romping bluegrass number, showcases Tyminski on vocals.
Though the band's spirits were high during recording, Tyminski explained that it takes a certain degree of "emotional exploration" to "bring yourself into the place of the songs your recording."
"You can't get the point across unless you bring yourself to that level," he said.
The band members accomplish this feat, in part, by feeding off each other's energy. Even after years of being apart, the band, which has dozens of Grammy Awards and millions of record sales under its belt, has easily rediscovered that connection.
Next time, Tyminski said, they'll try harder not to let the time get away from them.
"We never intended to go that long between records," he said. "Now, we can't help but think about what we're going to do next."
Tickets for Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas at Mountain Park in Holyoke on Sunday, July 24th at 7PM Tickets at Northampton Box Office, 76 Main Street, by phone at 413-586-8686 and online at IHEG.com.