By Keith Lawrence, Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer –
JANIE FRICKE, “Country Side of Bluegrass,” New Music Deals. 13 tracks.
The surest way to tell if a musical genre is becoming more popular is to watch artists from other genres beginning to move in.
In the past decade, Rickey Skaggs and Rhonda Vincent returned from country music for instant stardom in bluegrass.
Marty Raybon, Joe Diffie, Merle Haggard and Tommy Shaw, guitarist for the rock band Styx, among others have all made bluegrass albums in recent years.
Now, Janie Fricke, the Country Music Association’s female vocalist of the year in 1982 and 1983, is trying her hand at bluegrass.
In her Nashville heyday, Fricke racked up 18 No. 1 country singles. Now, she’s remaking a dozen of those country hits with a bluegrass beat.
With the exception of drums on some of the songs — and even a bluegrass stalwart like Doyle Lawson is using drums these days — bluegrass fans will fine little to quarrel with.
These are definitely bluegrass version of songs like “You Don’t Know Love,” “She’s Single Again,” “Down To My Last Broken Heart” and “It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Easy.” There’s even a bonus track of “Ring of Fire.”
Fricke turned 64 in December, but her voice is still as beautiful as it was 30 years ago. If you liked Fricke’s country songs, there’s no reason you won’t like the bluegrass versions. And if you’re discovering her for the first time, you’re in for a treat.
Can’t find it in stores? Try www.janiefricke.com. It’s scheduled for release on Jan. 24.