Alison Krauss (‘Windy City’): First solo album in 18 years is ‘an early contender for Album of the Year’

“Windy City,” the new album by Alison Krauss, was released on Friday, February 17. It’s her first solo album in 18 years, since she released “Forget About It” in 1999. Following that she released several collaborations — three with the band Union Station and one with rocker Robert Plant. But her new venture was worth the wait according to critics. It’s “an early contender for Album of the Year.”

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“Windy City” is a collection of 10 cover songs including Glen Campbell‘s “Gentle on My Mind” and Brenda Lee‘s “All Alone Am I,” and while February may seem early to declare an awards favorite, it’s never too soon to consider Krauss a contender. She has won a whopping 27 Grammy Awards, more than any other female artist in history and tied with Quincy Jones as the second most awarded artist of any gender (see all the top Grammy winners here). That includes two Album of the Year trophies — one as a featured artist on the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack (2002) and another with Robert Plant for their duet album “Raising Sand” (2009). She and Plant also won Record of the Year in 2009 for “Please Read the Letter.”

Krauss hasn’t released a new album of any kind, solo or otherwise, since “Paper Airplane” with Union Station six years ago, but that was a Grammy winner too, taking Best Bluegrass Album in 2012. Will she add to her awards haul with “Windy City”? Read some of the reviews below, and discuss this and more in our forums.

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Robert Ham (Consequence of Sound): “It isn’t a bold reconfiguring of her musical personality, like Speak Now-era Taylor Swift. This is a more gentle sidestep inspired, Krauss has said, more by working with Cannon than any need to break the mold. She’s staying true to herself while moving the needle forward just so.”

Juli Thanki (The Tennesseean): “Though ‘Windy City’ took years to complete, the finished product is worth the wait. It’s an early contender for Album of the Year honors; a lush, timeless-sounding album that’s held together by Krauss’ gossamer voice.”

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Steven Wine (Associated Press): “‘’Windy City’’ is classic country, with most of the tunes older than their 45-year-old singer. Krauss embraces them as her own, expanding her palette and making the traditional sound contemporary … Out front is her angelic soprano, which rises to the occasion throughout.”

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