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DONNA ULISSE —SHOWIN’ MY ROOTS (Hadley Music Group)

 

http://www.donnailissee.com

http://twitter.com/donnaulisse

 http://hadleymusicgroup.com

Bluegrass singer-songwriter, Donna Ulisse (pronounced You-liss-ee)—nominated songwriter of the year by the IBMA the last two years forgoes her own material, other than two co-writes with her husband, Rick Stanley (cousin of Dr. Ralph Stanley) on her latest album. 

 

Their songs “Showin’ My Roots” and “I Always Had A Song I Can Lean On” speak a great deal about how Ulisse decided on music as a career, and how songs have always been a great comfort to her during hard times (as illustrated in the lyrics of the latter). Title cut “Showin’ My Roots” starts off the album at a gallop as she speaks of her great inspirational figures of Loretta (Lynn), Dolly (Parton) and Merle (Haggard); and how their writing lit a fire in her. She doesn’t hide where she is from, musically. Just the opposite is true. As she sings about how her past shines like a beacon on taking loan of songs from the repertoire of the ladies, plus Carter Stanley’s “How Mountain Girls Can Love”, Peggy Stanley Bland – Ralph Stanley’s “If That’s The Way You Feel”, Rodney Crowell’s “One Way Rider”, Hank Locklin’s “Send Me The Pillow You Dream On” and traditional favourite, “Take This Hammer” (on having Sam Bush share lead a better version could not be asked for) and there are others too.  

 

The album is co-produced by Bryan Sutton and Ulisse, and as you would expect has a list of quality pickers assist to give their all. Pickers are Sutton (guitar, banjo), Andy Leftwich (fiddle, mandolin), Rob Ickes (Dobro), Victor Krauss, Byron House (upright bass) and Scott Vestal (banjo), while harmony vocals come from Fayssoux McLean, Rick Stanley, Sam Bush, John Cowan, Larry Cordle, Carl Jackson, Larry Stephenson and Jerry Salley. Usually used in permutations of two, the vocalists like the pickers give stellar support to Ulisse who for her part hits the road running to never look back.

 

As for choice tracks a few of the tunes have already been listed above, but it is the joy and drive that goes with them and grace on the ballads that grabs the listener's attention most.  Her liner notes give detailed accounts of how the songs effected her and were part in her growing up / developing as a performer. Loretta’s “Fist City”, Dolly (though it is Hag’s version she goes for) “In The Good Old Days When Times Were Bad” and Tammy’s (Wynette) hit “You Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” and another Loretta hit. Only this it’s one she did not write, “Somebody Somewhere” (Lola Jean Fawbush). Awash in tempered emotion Dobro Ulisse comes through with the strongest performance on the album. A match for Lynn if ever there were one. 

 

While the impact of the players near edges out Ulisse on a couple of songs she wins through with plaudits on “Wait A Little Longer Please Jesus” and a song that was written by her great uncle Eugene Butler (w/Bill Carrigan) who penned “I Hope You Have Learned”, as covered as a duet by bluegrass legend Bill Monroe (Monroe Brothers). Be sure to check out her website for more; her bluegrass / gospel music likewise is excellent.    

 

                                                           Maurice Hope      

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March 2018

1
Mary Gauthier
95 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
JD
2
Ed Romanoff
89 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
BK,EZ,JF,SP,MP,ML
3
Dean Owens
43 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
PJ
4
Marlon Williams
41 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans
CVL,DHO
5
Rod Picott
39 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
 
 
Vivian Leva
39 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
DD,HM,RB,TK
7
H.C McEntire
38 pts.
Lionheart
Merge Records
HB,JV
8
3hattrio
34 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
 
9
Alela Diane
32 pts.
Cusp
Allpoints Believe
RM,MG
 
Ben Miller Band
32 pts.
Choke Cherry Tree
New West Records
FC
 
The Lynnes
32 pts.
Heartbreak Song For The Radio
Independent
HDB,HH
12
Adam James Sorensen
30 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
GC,AL
13
John Oates
27 pts.
Arkansas
Thirthy Tigers
MB
14
Cameron Blake
26 pts.
Fear Not
Continental Song City/CRS
CRS
 
John Gorka
26 pts.
True In Time
Red House
 
16
I'm With Her
25 pts.
See You Around
Rounder Records
 
17
The Reverend Shawn Amos
22 pts.
Breaks it Down
Put Together Music
 
18
Beth Wimmer
21 pts.
Bookmark
Independent
BM,PH,PR
 
Chris Smither
21 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
 
 
Dayna Kurtz
21 pts.
Here, Vol 2
Kismet Records
 
21
Joan Baez
20 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
 
 
Kacy & Clayton
20 pts.
The Siren’s Song
New West Records
TJ,JB
23
Caleb Caudle
19 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
RK,MVP
24
Ad Vanderveen
18 pts.
Denver Nevada
Continental
BP
 
Ben Reel
18 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
 
 
Bruno Deneckere

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