January 16, 2012
Whenever we get new music from Alison Krauss & Union Station, there are two things we can generally count on: stellar musicianship, and pure, naturally beautiful vocals. Still, one variable is whether or not the music builds on the group’s tried-and-true musical formula of modern-bluegrass-meets-adult-pop, and moves it forward such that the approach does come across as merely business-as-usual. Last year’s set Paper Airplane contained the usual goods, but suffered to some extent from what one might call the plodding midsection syndrome – a cluster of competent but not particularly memorable tracks bookended by moments of brilliance.
In the context of the album, new single “My Love Follows You Where You Go” comes at a point at which things are just beginning to lose a little shine. It begins on a pedestrian-sounding note with a repetitive melody, and a first verse composed of a string of vague metaphors. But then the chorus comes, and the song gradually hits its stride. The melody rises, and the lyrics take on added specificity. At this point, we learn that the narrator’s lover is leaving her. The chorus rings quietly poignant by isolating the climactic moment in which her signficant other faces the outside world, preparing to depart. Though not attempting to deter him, Krauss’s character expresses grave awareness that her lover will one day “wake up, and the world is cruel and cold,” while simultaneously reaffirming her undying love – both in the titular phrase, and in the resolve of “I won’t pretend that it’s not killing me watching you walk away slow.”
The fourth verse is superfluous, not adding to or detracting from the story in any significant way. As a whole, the song doesn’t necessarily advance the group’s art, but it is an enjoyable variation on a reliable formula. Though the lyric could benefit from added straightforwardness, we are nevertheless left with a very good single, if not a great one.
Written by Barry Dean, Lori McKenna, and Liz Rose
Listen: My Love Follows You Where You Go