As a member of two of bluegrass music's most significant ensembles of the past dozen years--first the Lonesome River Band and currently Alison Krauss and Union Station--Dan Tyminski's voice, and his mandolin and guitar playing have naturally gained more notice than his name. The Coen brothers' film O Brother, Where Art Thou?--which saw its soundtrack become the nation's most popular country album--pushed matters further, associating Tyminski's voice with George Clooney's face as he mouthed "Man of Constant Sorrow." Tyminski's cameo backing Clooney and the Soggy Bottom Boys in the concert scene near the movie's end hardly reconciles years of making others sound great, while remaining unknown outside of the bluegrass community.
So what could Tyminski do but release a wonderful album of his own--one like Carry Me Across the Mountains--that would make folks notice his name along with his music. From the first notes of the anthem-like title cut, which features Union Station with Alison Krauss on tenor vocals, the album reflects a subtle, understated power and a deep understanding of the resources of the genre today. Tyminski, as befits a New England Yankee who has spent all his life in bluegrass music and half of it living in the rural South, has blended traditional and contemporary bluegrass elements into an individual sound, mixing time-honored bluegrass lyrical themes with up-to-date picking. Yet the album contains a wealth of diversity, moving easily from the New Age-meets-contemporary-Christian sound of "Faith is a Mystery," to the hardcore bluegrass classic, "Sunny Side of the Mountain."
For Carry Across the Mountain, Tyminski borrows the talents of roughly 30 or so of the best composers, singers and players. AKUS' Ron Block and LRB's Ronnie Bowman contribute both in the studio and as songwriters, joining such notable vocalists and players as Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, Ron Stewart, Jim Mills and Aubrey Haynie. The only disappointment is that Tyminski himself provides only one composition, a lovely instrumental about golf called "Greens Fees." But all in all, the excellent and mostly new material receives superior performances from the best in bluegrass, making for a recording that's hard to beat.