Alison Krauss' 10 Best Songs: Critic's Picks

Alison Krauss
Randee St. Nicholas

Alison Krauss

In discussing the obvious talents of Alison Krauss, where does one even begin? You could start with her virtuosity on the fiddle, which initially brought her to the attention of the country and bluegrass worlds in the mid-1980s -- when she was just in her middle teens. You could talk about her artistic flair and dominance at the award shows over the years. She has tallied seven CMA wins and an astounding 27 Grammys -- with likely a few more coming, thanks to her sterling disc Windy City.

But, those discussions have to include what is definitely Krauss’s most powerful instrument -- her voice. In one three-minute performance, the singer can be grown woman and little girl, wringing every ounce of power out of a lyric. In picking 10 of the greatest Alison Krauss song performances, we limited ourselves to her solo performances -- or those that just included Union Station. With a long line of memorable collaborative efforts that include Robert Plant, Brad Paisley and Kenny Rogers, we could do a list of those performances alone! Here are ten Krauss moment that lend proof to the idea that Krauss may be too good to be mortal like the rest of us – one that she just might be performing on her upcoming fall tour run, which begins Sept. 18 in Hershey, Penn. For tour information, log on to her website.

Best Songs: Alabama | Alan Jackson | Billy Currington | Blake Shelton | Brad Paisley | Brett Eldredge | Brett Young | Carrie Underwood | Chris Stapleton | Conway Twitty | Cole Swindell | Darius Rucker | David Allen CoeDierks Bentley | Dixie Chicks | Dolly Parton | Dwight Yoakam | Eric Church | Faith Hill | Garth Brooks | Gary AllanGeorge Jones | George Strait | Glen Campbell | Hank Williams Jr. | Jason Aldean | Johnny Cash | John Denver | Justin Moore | Keith Urban | Kelsea Ballerini | Kenny Chesney | Kenny Rogers | Lady Antebellum | Little Big TownMartina McBride | Merle Haggard | Miranda Lambert | Patsy Cline | Randy Travis | Rascal Flatts | Reba McEntire | Sam Hunt | Shania Twain | Sheryl Crow | Thomas Rhett | Tim McGraw | Toby Keith | Travis Tritt | Vince Gill | Waylon Jennings | Willie Nelson | Zac Brown Band

10. Alison Krauss - "It’s Goodbye and So Long To You"

It might be somewhat of a fair assessment to say that in spite of her greatness, Krauss has become somewhat of a one-trick pony from a vocal standpoint. Save her 2007 Raising Sand collaboration with Robert Plant, there wasn’t a lot of up-tempo tracks from Krauss this millennium, with the singer focused on her gorgeous ballads. This cover of an Osborne Brothers classic showed that there was still plenty of fire in Krauss’s vocal approach, making for one of the highlight tracks from her recent disc, the excellent Windy City.

9. Alison Krauss - "Goodbye Is All We Have Left"

That previous entry aside, there is definitely nothing wrong with an Alison Krauss vocal performance. One of her most emotional performances on such a song came on this track from 2004‘s Lonely Runs Both Ways, which was a stunning feature for her angelic vocal approach.

8. Alison Krauss - "Endless Highway"

When you speak of great Alison Krauss song performances, you have to take this beautiful performance from her 1990 I’ve Got That Old Feeling album into consideration. The singer brought the right amount of yearning into the track, which was all about looking forward to the reunion she was about to have with her significant other. What makes the track even more remarkable is that she was vocalizing with the power of a veteran performer when she was still a teenager.

7. Alison Krauss - "Steel Rails"

Also from I’ve Got That Old Feeling, this gorgeous performance served notice on both the country and bluegrass worlds that Krauss was about to embark on a career that was going to be very special. Her beautiful take on Louisa Branscomb’s wistful lyrics of comparing her new journey as a single person to that of a locomotive gliding down the track and not looking back remains one of her more effective performances.

6. Alison Krauss - "Baby, Now That I’ve Found You"

With her career firmly entrenched into the fast lane, Krauss reached back into pop history for this 1995 Grammy-winning performance of a 1967 hit from The Foundations. The track was equal part seductive and innocence, with the singer striking a winning balance in this enduring Alison Krauss song performance.

5. Alison Krauss - "I’ve Got That Old Feeling"

Early on in her career, Krauss demonstrated an affinity for the music and songs of The Cox Family. Nowhere was that any more apparent than on this benchmark from her beginning years, penned by Sidney Cox. The song showed her vocal prowess, but also demonstrated her talent on the fiddle as well -- showing that even at age 18, her talent was going to take her far.

4. Alison Krauss - "Let Me Touch You For A While"

With her tenor being very angelic, Krauss played the seductive role quite well on this track from 2001‘s New Favorite, which was as sensual of a performance that Krauss had ever attempted -- one that she knocked out of the ballpark. Almost 20 years later, the song still scorches.

3. Alison Krauss - "Looking In The Eyes Of Love"

Another Grammy-winning Krauss song, this 1997 recording captured every ounce of emotion that songwriters Kostas and Tricia Walker put into writing the song. It didn’t hurt that she had a winning blueprint for her version, as Patty Loveless gave a dramatic original performance of the song in 1990.

2. Alison Krauss - "New Fool"

Another Krauss selection from the Cox Family well, this 1993 track from Every Time You Say Goodbye glistened with the dramatic flair of a Nashville classic from decades earlier. Even a quarter-century later, this performance is still as breathtaking and unforgettable as it was when she originally recorded it.

1. Alison Krauss - "When You Say Nothing At All"

It’s a rarity for a cover to top one of these lists, but Krauss’s version of this 1988 Keith Whitley chart-topper is one of those success stories that you just have to root for. The song started it’s Krauss journey as simply a track from a 1995 Whitley tribute album on BNA, but radio quickly picked up on the song -- starting to spin it without any promotion from the label. Once BNA got involved, the song became a career-defining performance, hitting the top five on the Country Singles charts, netting the singer a Single of the Year trophy -- among four overall wins -- at the CMA Awards in October of 1995. With such a version like Whitley’s to follow -- we’ll stop short of saying she made this Don Schlitz/Paul Overstreet copyright totally her own, but in the terms of Alison Krauss song performances, this one is very much a no-brainer!