Alison Brown

Twilight Motel

Vanguard, 1992

I really liked Brown's first solo release, "Simple Pleasures", but I must say I'm quite disappointed in this one -- entirely too much of it sounds like something off a "Lite Jazz" station, or as background music to a TV special. There are four tracks featuring an all-star bluegrass lineup (Mike Marshall, Stuart Duncan, Tony Rice and Roy Huskey Jr.); two of them, "Lorelei" and "Shoot the Dog", really move and are the highlights of the album for me. One of the others, "Pelican Bay", is marred by the presence of cheesy steel drums). "Blue Marlin" is a Dawgish piece that would have fit in well on her first album. "First Light" reminds me of Bela Fleck's or Jerry Douglas' "new acoustic" music; I'm not real fond of most music in that style, and this is no exception. I can hardly stand to listen to the title track, with its soft rock rhythm section. "Saint Genevieve" takes an interesting idea -- combining banjo with a non-standard string quartet of violin, viola, cello and bass -- and the results are pleasant, but not compelling.

As a whole, this album lacks the kind of rhythmic drive that always keeps, for example, David Grisman's music from boring me. The album closes with "Sweet Thames Flow Softly", with guest vocalist Maura O'Connell and Brown on guitar; I might enjoy this tune more were it at the end of a different album.

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