All Music Guide/Steven E. McDonald
Excerpting Laurie Lewis's trio of albums for Flying Fish, and adding four new cuts, the collection does a good job of tracking her development as a country/bluegrass performer, and her adoption of more open forms that cater to more of a singer/songwriter mode -- the concluding "Magic Light," in fact, is quite haunting. A good starting point.
And it would be remiss of me not to comment on her incredible vocals. She effectively uses her voice as a complex, rich instrument, and it sounds better and better with every release. Her mastery and control of her voice just seem to be on an ever-upward curve. At some points in her songs, I listen to what her voice does just within the space of a single word, and I'm amazed.
Whether it's Lewis's vibrant fiddling matched to the great story of "The Bear Song," the plaintive "Love Chooses You" (with incredible resonator guitar backup by Jerry Douglas) or the norteno/swing-inflected "Texas Bluebonnets," this is a collection you shouldn't miss. It will be one of your favorites right out of the box, then will grow on you even more with every hearing.
North County Times/Jim Trageser
Lewis is a fine singer and even better fiddle player. She's so good that she was featured on the all-star women's bluegrass project, "Blue Rose," on Sugar Hill Records (which you really ought to own if you at all like American music).
But her greatest talent is her songwriting. Like Tom Russell or Guy Clark, Lewis writes smart little tales of average folks, the people both political parties claim to represent every election season then promptly forget.
On this compilation drawn from Lewis' three solo releases on the now-defunct Flying Fish label (now owned by Rounder), Lewis is joined by some of the best country and bluegrass players around: Jerry Douglas, Tony Furtado, Mike Marshall, Buddy Emmons and Sam Bush.
Of course, every once in a while one of these no-name talents breaks through into the mainstream. If you've enjoyed Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris or Ricky Skaggs, for instance, then you might want to give Laurie Lewis a listen.
Country Standard Time/Brian Wahlert
Regardless of the musical category, though, the central theme of this album is Lewis's talent as a songwriter. She's cautious about falling in love in the banjo-driven bluegrass song "Don't Get Too Close," but she writes poignantly about crossing that line in the fiddle-and-steel country song "The Point of Return." "Green Fields" and "The Hills of My Home" display Lewis's love for the outdoors. Even more interesting are "The Bear Song," a story about a lost hunter who is saved by a group of fiddle-playing bears, and "The Maple's Lament," a spare Irish-sounding first-person tale of the life and death of a tree. And the ethereal natural beauty of "Magic Light" is unlike anything else on any country album. This disc is a fascinating look at a decade in the career of one amazingly gifted songwriter.
"Laurie is a tremendously gifted writer with a unique vision, the possessor of an exquisitely lovely voice, a whiz on fiddle and acoustic bass, and a good producer."
Just buy it!
I'm a great fan of such music and bought the album based on that single song. I had not heard of Laurie Lewis until I heard her on satellite radio playing "The Maples Lament" from the CD. Wow! This has become the CD I listen to most. All I can say is buy it you won't be disappointed.