Hazel Dickens – Pioneer Women of Bluegrass

Dickens and Gerrard recorded a couple of albums in
the mid-1960s that are now acknowledged as groundbreakers in
demonstrating that women could play and record quality bluegrass. This
collection remasters and resequences 26 tracks from the sessions, as
well as adding lengthy historical liner notes, much of them contributed
by the performers themselves. Historical significance aside, it’s pretty
good bluegrass, the two singers and instrumentals supported by other
good musicians, including a young David Grisman. Their set leaned heavily on covers of tunes by the Carter Family and Bill Monroe (who specifically gave “I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling” to the duo), with additional items by the Delmore Brothers, the Stanley Brothers, and the like. Alice Gerrard‘s
low vocals give this a greater gravity than much bluegrass. A special
highlight is the cover of the magnificently mournful “The One I Love Is
Gone,” another tune that Monroe
donated to the pair. Inverting the usual bluegrass cliche, one might
call it an example of the low and lonesome sound.

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