A three time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, Bradley is once again nominated in this category. She is also nominated for Song of the Year: “I’ll Take Love” - Dale Ann Bradley with Alison Krauss and Steve Gulley (artists); Louisa Branscomb and Dale Ann Bradley (songwriters); Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year: “Sailing On” - Russell Moore and Dale Ann Bradley (artists); Rick Lang (songwriter), Jesse Brock and John Miller (producers); Rural Rhythm Christian (label)l Recorded Event of the Year: “I’ll Take Love” - Dale Ann Bradley with Alison Krauss and Steve Gulley (artists); Louisa Branscomb and Missy Raines (producers); Compass Records (label)
To introduce the her newest CD, a Release Party was held September 2 at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame at Renfro Valley, a place where not only did Bradley reside at one time, but also performed at the at.
With Somewhere South of Crazy (which went on sale August 30), Bradley shares what has shaped her life and music, by going “deeper — deeper into bluegrass, deeper into her own musical passions, deeper into her own history as a veteran entertainer who spent years singing country music alongside her ’grass’ at Renfro Valley”.
This is Bradley’s third Compass album, and eighth overall, and she “continues her measured but steady ascension to the highest levels of bluegrass performance and reverence. The new CD features songs that range from bluegrass favorites to brand new songs from Bradley and others, including the title track, which provided Bradley with some especially enjoyable moments with co-writer Pam Tillis.
“We had the best time writing,” she stated in a prior interview. “I just love her. We sat down, and she had that title line and the idea, and I came up with the melody and some lines — we had worked on a few different things, but this was the one that we finished, and as soon as we did, I knew it was going to be the title track.”
And reviews agree.
“One could imagine that when bluegrass music legend Dale Ann Bradley sings, God himself smiles in heaven above. This may sound like lavish praise, but it only does if you have never heard the golden voiced singer who was named IBMA “female vocalist of the year” three years in a row (2007 - 2009). Now, you’ll find Dale Ann Bradley in a place “Somewhere South Of Crazy,” and it’s one loony bin you’ll never, ever want to leave
The album begins with the title track “Somewhere South Of Crazy.” As usual with Compass Records’ projects, the production is top-notch, and the song is a mid-tempo feast for the ears. Likewise, Bradley’s voice has aged perfectly, and the artist has never sounded better, “said the review from Country Chart.com.
While the title track is receiving rave reviews, it is “Come Home Good Boy”, that Country Chart.com calls “the biggest surprise” of the album. The review of the CD went on to say, “the biggest surprise of the album is the sincere “Come Home Good Boy,” which is a story in song about a mother who has to let go of her son who is leaving for war in the armed forces. Words cannot describe the authenticity in which Dale Ann Bradley sings on “Come Home Good Boy” which deserves widespread fan and critical respect.”
Bradley says the selection of “Come Home Good Boy” was especially poignant, as it connects itself to her first memory of a funeral, when, at age five, a neighbor boy who served with her uncle Mickey Wilson in Vietnam returned home in a casket.
Bluegrass fans will also be pleased with the rest of the tracks, which includes song’s like “New Shoes”, “Restoring the Love”, “I Pressed Through The Crowd”, “Will You Visit Me On Sundays,” “Leaving Kentucky”, “Round and Round”, “Next To Nothing”, and just in time for his 100th birthday celebration, the late Bill Monroe’s “In Despair”.
Bluegrass fans unfamiliar with her ability to pull rock songs and make them her own may question her decision to include “Summer Breeze,” first recorded by Seals & Crofts, on a the new CD, but Bradley sees it as a natural.
“I’ve always wanted to do that song,” she says. “I don’t pick out a rock tune just for the sake of having one — it has to be one that I always grew up with, or one that I hear that strikes me as fitting into the mix. Sometimes a melody or lyric will just have that feel, just lend itself to the banjo or something like that — like this one, it almost sounds Celtic to me.”
The CD concludes with a live bonus cut from “Old Southern Porches”, that ends with the concert announcer stating, “If that don’t turn you on, you ain’t got no switches.” As one reviewer said, couldn’t say it better myself.
Bradley, co-founder of the Cumberland River Music Academy along with another Bluegrass great and Claiborne County, Tenn., resident Steve Gulley (who sang with Bradley on some of the cuts for the new CD) also plans to hold a release party at the Bell Theatre in Pineville in the near future.
“We’re working on getting it together for sometime after the IBMA Awards,” said Bradley.
For now, her schedule is packed. She just completed a performance at the National Folk Festival in Nashville, and will be working steadily in the weeks leading up to the IBMA Awards, set for Oct. 2 in Nashville. Her appearances include performing at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Va., Pickin in the Panhandle in Martinsburg, W.Va., the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in Bristol Tenn./Va., in Bristol, Tenn., the Three Sisters Bluegrass Festival in Chattanooga, and on October 1 at Sounds Like Home at nearby Cove Lake State Park in Caryville, Tenn.
In between all those performances, Bradley’s fans may just see her around, as she is planning a trip home before the awards show to see her son, John Bradley, perform in the starring role of the Middlesboro Little Theatre’s production of “Magic Man: The Fall of David Grant Colson”.
Middlesboro Daily News Lifestyle Editor Donna Greene can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org