Alison Krauss & Union Station – “Paper Airplane”

Blake Boldt | April 4th, 2011

Alison Krauss & Union Station

Alison Krauss wasn’t present at last weekend’s ACM Awards in Las Vegas. Presumably she was busy polishing her obscene Grammy collection (27 and counting) and resting before the release of Paper Airplane, her first album with Union Station since 2004′s Lonely Runs Both Ways.

Krauss would be an odd fit at the festivities anyway: she’s rarely been favored by country radio, and her four career Top Ten appearances are mostly duet projects with other high-profile artists. But her indelible mark on the genre is deepened with her new album’s first single and title track. “Paper Airplane” projects a glass half empty approach to matters of the heart. With a wistful sigh, she again acknowledges that love is a fickle, fragile thing: “People come together/People go their own way/Love conquers few.”

It’s a message backed up here by stellar musicianship. Union Station is no mere supporting cast; the group works in tandem with Krauss to create a harrowing arrangement to match her mood. Dan Tyminski’s mandolin and Jerry Douglas’ dobro offer a sweet-and-sour duet of their own. As Tyminski chimes in with his hopeful notes, Douglas grounds the music with a sense of fear and mystery. It’s a pairing that would be worthy of an instrumental version even without Krauss’ ethereal voice.

But what a voice it is, as full of hope as it is of heartache. Few singers have the grace and vocal gifts to make a living from melancholy like Krauss does. Even in the late hours of night, as she fights the sorrow of unrequited love, there’s a dark beauty in her hard-won lesson: “Love is like a paper airplane/Flyin’ in the folded dent/Ridin’ high, dippin’ low.”

“Paper Airplane” doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any means, but it further defines Krauss’ elegant, timeless style. An understated gem like this is always a welcome breath of fresh air.

Thumbs Up

  1. Bob
    April 4, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Good song and performance. Who wrote it?

    April 4, 2011 at 8:59 am

    AC & Union rarely disappoint. I always prefer to hear the group on background vocals rather than just instrumental backup, but another good piece of music nonetheless. By the way, what beter group to listen to instrumentally?

    Best wished,
    Waynoe the Reformed

    April 4, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Good grief, “wished.” Oh well. Monday morning.

  4. Jon
    April 4, 2011 at 10:14 am

    That’s a Robert Lee Castleman song.

    April 4, 2011 at 10:21 am

    He wrote “The Lucky One” as well which I beleive snagged a Grammy.

  6. Michael A.
    April 4, 2011 at 10:46 am

    The Judds are releasing a compilation tomorrow which includes a new song with Alison Krauss. Has anyone heard it yet? Thoughts?

  7. idlewildsouth
    April 4, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I love most anything Robert Lee Castleman writes, this included.

    April 4, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Speaking of Wynonna, how was she on the ACM’s? I know there were comments about her sad struggle with middle-age but, in my simplicity, didn’t understand what that meant.

  9. Barry Mazor
    April 4, 2011 at 11:48 am

    The Judds (both of them) looked to me to be visibly unhappy to even be there, with what was going on around them, and possibly with each other..

    April 4, 2011 at 11:54 am

    They have had a difficult history for sure. With all of Wy’s issues aside, she can dang sure sing. I doubt Wy was impressed with the show, and at some time she will probably say so.

  11. Jon
    April 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Alison has recorded lots of R. L.’s songs, both with Union Station and on her own. She produced the album he did for Rounder a number of years ago, and when she produced that album for Alan Jackson she included at least one of R. L.’s songs, to wit, the title track.

  12. solongsowrong
    April 4, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    R.L. Castleman songs that AK has recorded.

    “Forget About It”
    “Let Me Touch You For Awhile”
    “The Lucky One”
    “Crazy As Me”
    “Doesn’t Have To Be This Way”
    “Paper Airplane”

  13. Noeller
    April 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Sigh. If there’s a heaven, I’m pretty sure AK music is playing 24/7. This is a beautiful song, sung by one of the best in t he business, and Union Station crush it as well, particularly with the perfectly accented mandolin (??) which has always fit her voice like a glove.


  14. Robert Lee Castleman
    April 5, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks for the vote of confidence folks. Its very inspirational. I just wish they could get the lyric right.

  15. solongsowrong
    April 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    You the man, R.L. Love your music. From what I’ve seen so far, quite a few sites have the lyrics slightly off.

    Our love is like a paper airplane flying in the folded wind
    Riding high, dipping low
    And innocence is fair game, I’m hoping I can hold it in
    Our love will die, I know

    I hope that is better?

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