The 89th Academy Awards

Always Take Me Back

Former New Grass Revival vocalist John Cowan has crafted the most ambitious album of his solo career in Always Take Me Back.

Former New Grass Revival vocalist John Cowan has crafted the most ambitious album of his solo career in Always Take Me Back. It's a stylish, primarily acoustic collection, with the uplifting, gently insistent "They Always Take Me Back" and the joyous, Celtic-flavored David/Goliath treatise "Someone Give Me a Stone" setting the pace early on. Cowan is a powerhouse of a vocalist who can sing and play almost anything with his skilled band; he experiments to great effect with funk on "Sittin' on Top of the World" and syncopated prog rock on the Yes chestnut "Long Distance Runaround" and then rocks impressively on the pounding "18 Years." Elsewhere, the runaway bluegrass of "Two Quarts Low" and "Monroe's Mule" recall the best work of his previous band, and Cowan is appropriately subtle on such gorgeous ballads as "Blood" and "In My Father's Field." A first-class effort all the way around.—RW