Allison Krauss Credit: Randee St. Nicholas

Earlier this year Alison Krauss released Windy City (Capitol), her first solo recording without her longtime combo Union Station since 1999. Her 2007 collaboration with Robert Plant, Raising Sand, revealed her natural range for multiple strains of American music, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that when she decided to push beyond her bluegrass sound for a covers album of classic country hits, she brought on veteran producer Buddy Cannon to tackle them in lush, countrypolitan style. Krauss opens the album with a cover of the Brenda Lee hit “Losing You,” describing the collapse of a love affair with tear-jerking power among sentimental strings and woozy pedal steel guitar from Mike Johnson. She flips the script with the next track: an obscurity first released by the Osborne Brothers and Mac Wiseman in 1979, “It’s Goodbye and So Long to You” is a kiss-off tune larded with a jaunty honky-tonk rhythm and celebratory horns. She embraces the poetic sentiment of the Glen Campbell hit “Gentle on My Mind” without a touch of cynicism, while her version of the Bill Monroe B side “Poison Love” takes the bluegrass song out of the mountains and into the city. Windy City features guest vocals from Union Station guitarist Dan Tyminski and previous collaborators Sidney and Suzanne Cox of the Cox Family, who lend precise and soulful harmonies to several tracks. The band itself comprises members of Union Station and top-flight Nashville session players like guitarist Richard Bennett and percussionist Kenny Malone, who give the music the sort of classic sound it deserves, allowing Krauss to summon the spirit of country legends such as Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton with a tender, gospel-tinged veneer. I don’t see Windy City being an endgame for Krauss, but it’s a wonderful digression.   v