The album, then, may spawn a concert that includes one or more lengthy fusion jams, less dramatic than those of Bela Fleck but brainier, with odd dissonances that seem to hang over long stretches of music. Bluegrass is never completely absent from Douglas's music, but the heart of this album resides in a group of compositions, several of them by Douglas himself, that meditatively extend the Dobro's roots genres. There is a lovely Dobro-ized Duane Allman solo, a version of "In the Sweet By and By" whose quiet radiance reminds me of the music of the African American "sacred steel" players, and two terrific country songs in which Douglas gets to show his sensitivity as an accompanist. One of them, "The Suit," is a funeral piece so calm and warm that I'd choose it for my own.
Jerry Douglas visits the Ark on Saturday, June 1.
[Originally published in June, 2002.]