Ralph Stanley A Distant Land to Roam: Songs of the Carter Family

One of the few remaining bluegrass innovators, Ralph Stanley has never wavered from performing the music he grew up with, which has led to his revered position among all other American musicians. Here, Stanley defers to one of his main influences, and although many of these songs have been covered in an infinite number of ways, Stanley’s steady, measured approach with his Clinch Mountain Boys is never anything less than faithful to the original spirit. His ancient tenor remains the most evocative instrument in these arrangements, despite its seemingly narrow range. Mostly, it is the strength that Stanley is able to convey, a strength borne out of the hard life that formed songs like "Worried Man Blues,” "Motherless Children” and "Longing For Home” over a century ago. At the same time, he is able to approach material like "Little Moses” and "I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes” with an aching tenderness. There aren’t many assurances in life, but listening to Ralph Stanley sing "God Gave Noah the Rainbow Sign” makes it hard not to believe that’s there’s a better world ahead. (Sony BMG)