CD Review - Dan Tyminski 'Wheels'

Dan Tyminski: a man of constant talent.
Dan Tyminski: a man of constant talent. (
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Friday, March 13, 2009

DAN TYMINSKI "Wheels" Rounder

IT'S EASY to forget that Dan Tyminski is one of the finest singers in country music today. That's because he's so often eclipsed by his employer, Alison Krauss, perhaps the best country singer of our time. But now that Krauss is preoccupied with her duo project with Robert Plant, Tyminski has a chance to record and tour on his own, and the man who supplied George Clooney's singing voice in the film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" shines on his new album, "Wheels."

The instrumentation is the classic bluegrass quintet (acoustic guitar, mandolin, upright bass, fiddle and banjo or dobro), but Tyminski shares Krauss's preference for delivering a song's story over showing how fast and flashy the band can pick. That is obvious when he sings "How Long Is This Train," a ballad about a drunken old man at a depot waiting for his son's casket. Tyminski nicely understates the narrative, and when Vince Gill adds a harmony, it's clear that Tyminski's tenor is just as honeyed as his more famous guest.

It's not all sweet poignancy, however. When he sings about murder ("Some Early Morning"), troubled marriage ("Heads You Win, Tails I Lose") or both ("Who Showed Who"), Tyminski's voice takes on an edge that captures all the fear and ache that life can offer.

His band includes Krauss's former mandolinist Adam Steffey and her current bassist, Barry Bales. The songwriting includes contributions from such past and present Krauss musicians as Tyminski, Steffey, Ron Block and Tim Stafford. This is what an Alison Krauss album might sound like if she were a tenor rather than a soprano.

-- Geoffrey Himes

Appearing today at the Birchmere (703-549-7500, Show starts at 7:30 p.m.

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