The glamorization of Rhonda Vincent continues, but thankfully it hasn't affected her music. She appears on the cover of her new record as a bombshell in a low-cut, blue-sequined dress, but the music is still straight from the Appalachian mountaintops. Vincent is an outstanding bluegrass singer, not as well known as Alison Krauss, but she'll likely gain on Krauss with this superb new effort. For the first time, Vincent wrote or cowrote five of the songs, from the signature statement "Good Thing Going" (about having a great career and a great marriage) to the fiery "Bluegrass Saturday Night" and the knockout ballad "I Give All My Love to You," which she penned as a wedding song for a friend. Her passion is evident on thrilling vocal sustains on the fast-picked "I'm Leavin' " (yes, not all of her songs are optimistic), and she stops you cold with the tender "I Will See You Again." Vincent also has a reverence for bluegrass masters; witness her hard-charging covers of Jimmy Martin's "Hit Parade of Love" and Jim & Jesse's "Just One of a Kind." And in case country-radio programmers are listening, she enlists superstar Keith Urban for a lovely duet on the traditional "The Water Is Wide," although Urban is a bit shy and understated. Maybe he was in awe of Vincent. It's entirely possible. This lady can flat-out sing. [Steve Morse]
ESSENTIAL "I Give All My Love to You"