Album Review

Rhonda Vincent, 'Destination Life'

June 15, 2009
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Rhonda Vincent Destination Life
ESSENTIAL "Stop the World (and Let Me Off)"

Bluegrass queen Alison Krauss has been off playing with Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, so fans of the genre will hopefully lend a closer ear to Rhonda Vincent, who has long been overshadowed by her illustrious counterpart. Krauss is unparalleled for bluegrass finesse, but Vincent can belt her into the next county. This is the first album that Vincent has made with only her touring band, the Rage, and it's a beauty. She's a hard-driving singer who knows about love's losses and how to purge them in songs such as the title track (backed by accelerating fiddle runs from Hunter Berry), the crisp romp "Last Time Loving You" (one of three songs she co-wrote), and "Heart Wrenching Lovesick Memories," drenched in fleet flatpicking from new Rage guitarist Ben Helson. The first five tunes are an emotional whirl of escape from faded loves, but the rest of the album is filled with a more positive outlook, while still often remaining rhythmically intense. Vincent later shows her full range with a couple of bluegrass gospel numbers. One of them, "I Heard My Savior Calling Me," ends with a piercing, open-throated wail that Krauss, as good as she is, could only dream about. (Out tomorrow) STEVE MORSE