“Every silver lining always seems to have a cloud that comes my way,” Krauss sings on opening title track. Paper Airplane unfolds as a lush ballad contemplating the end of a relationship. “They said in California there was work of every kind, but the only job I got out there was waiting on a welfare line,” Dan Tyminski sings, harkening back to the Great Depression in Dust Bowl Children. “Most of the work is now being done by machines,” he adds, moving the song into the present day. Most of Krauss' songs on Paper Airplane deal in some way or another with the very end of dying relationships. One of the best of these is “Lie Awake,” which finds Krauss pondering “why do I lie awake when nothing's right and nothing's wrong.” “Lay My Burden Down” is a haunting Krauss number which finds the protagonist longing for the final release that comes with death. “My Love Follows You Where You Go” is Krauss' take on an “I Hope You Dance” type of song. It is far superior due to definitively better writing and intriguing musical cues, including some minor key flourishes which add a touch of sorrow to this tale of a parent watching a child leave home. Krauss is known for her quiet and haunting voice, and she unleashes it in full force on “Dimming of the Day.” She provides an impeccably warm and sweet vocal as she murmurs about missing a lover, longing for him to come home. The next Union Station track in “On the Outside Looking In.” A bit too on the money in its storyline, it comes across as the story of Patterson Hood's character's nerdy older brother. “Miles To Go” is a fairly pedestrian track, salvaged by a layered melody and Krauss' incredible vocal. “Sinking Stone” uses one of the most overused symbols for a dying relationship that there is, but, in this case, it is one of the strongest tracks on the album. The final Dan Tyminski track on the album is “Bonita and Bill Butler,” a tasty, traditional sounding ballad of a sea faring man and his lady love. Paper Airplanes closes with Alison Krauss singing the album's strongest track, “My Opening Farewell.” “There is a train everyday leaving either way,” she croons, “We'll soon be gone, its just as well.”
Allison Krauss is probably the best known singer who rarely, if ever, gets played on mainstream radio. This is a tragedy as Krauss has spent her career bringing Bluegrass to audiences that normally do not come across Bluegrass and making them fans of the genre (or at least her). More than any pop-crossover princess, she has been an ambassador for the Country genre, and she has done it all with music that sounds country. She has branched out to movies, and her role on the soundtracks for Cold Mountain and O Brother Where Art Thou? have been credit with helping to create the Bluegrass revival of the last decade. Not content to be a bluegrass legend, she went on to partner with Robert Plant for the wildly successful, Grammy-winning and platinum-selling Raising Sand. And she has done it all with virtually no credit or assistance from the mainstream. Paper Airplanes will not be the album that changes that, but it will be one of the best country albums of the year.
Watch: "Paper Airplane" Video