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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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November 2017

1
JW Roy & The Royal Family
80 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,BH,RST,LK
2
Chris Hillman
79 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
BP,FS,HD
3
Turnpike Troubadours
46 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
HM,TK
4
Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton
36 pts.
Wildflower Blues
Cinquefoil Records
TJ
5
Eilen Jewell
34 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
 
6
Lucinda Williams
31 pts.
This Sweet Old World
Highway 20/Thirty Tigers
BR,MW
7
JD McPherson
29 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
JS
8
Mark Martyre
26 pts.
Rivers
Independent
FC
 
Tom Russell
26 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
SP
10
Anna Tivel
25 pts.
Small Believer
Fluff And Gravy Records
MG
 
Margo Price
25 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
JB
12
Fred Wickham
22 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
RK
 
Joe Henry
22 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
HVB,PJ
 
Whitney Rose
22 pts.
Rule 62
Six Shooter/Thirty Tigers
 
15
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
HDB,JJ
 
Jim White
18 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
LM,SZ
 
Peter Gallway
18 pts.
Feels Like Religion
Gallway Bay Music
CVL,DHO
18
Thomm Jutz
17 pts.
Crazy If You Let It
Mountain Fever Records
 
19
Kris Delmhorst
16 pts.
The Wild
Blue Blade Records
 
20
Daniel Crabtree
15 pts.
In The Shadow Of His Wings
Independent
 
 
Jeremy Pinnell
15 pts.
Ties Of Blood And Affection
Sofaburn Records
 
 
Julien Baker
15 pts.
Turn Out The Lights
Matador
EZ
23
Amber Cross
14 pts.
Savage on the Downhill
Independent
 
 
Chris Blevins
14 pts.
Better than Alone
Horton Records
 
 
David Rawlings
14 pts.
Poor David's Almanack
Acony Records
 
 
Grainne Duffy
14 pts.
Where I Belong
Independent
GC,RW
 
Jeff Crosby
14 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records

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