A host of talented pickers and singers inspired by banjo master, educator, and songwriter Louisa Branscomb converge for Gonna Love Anyway, a star-studded solo album from Branscomb anchored by a new version of her best-known composition, the Alison Krauss breakout hit turned modern-day bluegrass standard “Steel Rails.”
Throughout the album, guest vocalists help Branscomb revitalize material spanning over 40 years. These guests include award-winning New Coon Creek Girls singer and solo artist Dale Ann Bradley (“Gone,” “Ain’t No Good Goodbye”), decorated fiddler Becky Buller (“Barefoot Girl,” “End of the Line”), gifted band leader and vocalist Claire Lynch (“Freight Train for a Song”), proud traditionalist Johnny Williams (“There’s No Marker on Our Grave”), and perhaps the finest guitarist in modern bluegrass, Josh Williams (“Riding Double on My Old John Deere”).
Two additional collaborators contributed album-defining performances. Molly Tuttle, a performer with all the crossover potential of Krauss, turns the title track into a tender, multigenerational team-up. Later in the album, Dave Peterson dials back the clock to the days of Bill Monroe by lending his old-school vocal delivery to a mandolin-driven slice of nostalgia.
Special guests beyond Branscomb’s stable of vocalists include fiddler Stuart Duncan, mandolin player Sierra Hull, harmony vocalist Tina Adair, and numerous others. It’s a cast and track list that screams tribute album. Simultaneously, Branscomb’s talents as a multi-instrumentalist and harmony vocalist make the collection her newest musical statement.
The entire cast joins together for a new version of “Steel Rails,” a song made famous by Krauss, John Denver, and numerous others from the worlds of bluegrass, folk and country music. All 11 songs on the album stand the test of time, but the widely known and respected “Steel Rails” best suits an all-star jam treatment.
In all, the album revives some of the best examples of Branscomb’s songcrafting skills by teaming her with a multigenerational crew of fellow bluegrass tastemakers.