Adrenne Young covers Brokedown Palace
"The Art of Virtue," Adrienne Young, Addiebelle ***
Making virtue a fun thing
Adrienne Young is a Floridian who approaches bluegrass as though it, not she, was born yesterday. The freshness and spark jumps out of her songs, in which she ponders the meaning of virtue in America today.
The title song outlines her manifesto assertively yet cheerily, quickly letting listeners know they're not in for a sermon: "Gonna start a revolution /Made of action, not of words /Practicing the Art of Virtue /A joy ride on a learning curve."
She wrote or co-wrote most of the original material, into which she intersperses a couple of traditionals delivered with a voice like that of Alison Krauss' older sister. Her not-so-hidden message is that real virtue emerges not in easy pronouncements from political pulpits but in difficult choices individuals make every day.
Her "Pretty Ella Arkansas," about a woman who gloriously transcends the limitations of her birthright, sounds as though it has been handed down through the mists of time.
And she turns Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter's "Brokedown Palace" into an elegiac folk-gospel benediction that brings the album to a close.