Dan Tyminski, an alum of the Lonesome River Band and Alison Krauss' Union Station, has achieved Most Valuable Player status working as a bandmate or session player on albums by Dolly Parton, Clint Black, Sara Evans and Randy Travis. Krauss and LRB's Ronnie Bowman return the favor by guesting on Tyminski's solo debut, Carry Me Across the Mountain, which he co-produced with former LRB guitarist (and Doobie Shea label owner) Tim Austin.
Krauss lifts her crystal-clear voice in sweet harmony on the title track and the Louvin Brothers' "Tiny Broken Heart," while J.D. Crowe and New South alum Dwight McCall's taut tenor add dimension to the breezy "Stuck in the Middle of Nowhere" (RealAudio excerpt), co-written by Tyminski and Tim Massey.
The title of Tyminski's "Greens Fees" (RealAudio excerpt) implies the comforts of suburbia, but it's a mountain music-inspired instrumental on which Jim Mills' banjo cuts through with particular clarity. Tyminski's unexpected use of conga and shakers creates an engrossing setting for Craig Market's honestly delivered "Faith Is a Mystery."
Tyminski has an engagingly graceful presence, and his pleasant, lightly textured tenor adapts well to various arrangements and harmonies and imbues his songs with affecting warmth. It's more sincere than dramatic, but he hones it to a piercing edge on Bowman's "Please Dear Mommy," a world-class tearjerker that lingers in the mind once the album's over.
With players like Mills, guitarist Tony Rice, Dobro master Jerry Douglas, fiddler Aubrey Haynie, and Tyminski on guitar and mandolin, the musicianship on Carry Me is predictably excellent. Thoughtful song choices, sequencing and singing seal the album's appeal.