Hadley Music HMG1016
Donna Ulisse has become one of our music’s most solid, consistent, and prolific songwriters, as this new project shows. Like most writers, many of her songs are based on personal experiences, her faith, remembrances, and life’s observations. She is joined on this project by Bryan Sutton (guitar), Scott Vestal (banjo), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Dennis Crouch (bass), and Casey Campbell (mandolin). Guest vocals include Jerry Salley, Fayssoux McLean, and her husband Rick Stanley.
These songs are surely hers, but she’s written many in collaboration with Stanley, Salley, or Marc Rossi. She attributes much of her influence for this project to her grandfather, Lloyd Butler, who started work as a gandy dancer on the C&O Railroad, a career which lasted fifty years. The song “Working On The C&O” is about his experiences, such as having to move every 18 months as the job moved further down the line. Another poignant song is “Papa’s Garden” about her grandfather’s post-retirement farm. “Black Train” is about getting away on the rail, while “We’re Gonna Find A Preacher” is about getting married with his Daddy’s suit and my Mama’s gown. “Hard Cry Moon” is about a broken heart and “The River’s Runnin Free” may be about a murder. I’ll leave the other selections for the listener to discover, which include “As Long As We’re Together,” “Ain’t That A Pity,” “I’m In For A Long Ride,” and the beautiful “I’ll Sleep In Peace At Night.” The only non-Ulisse composition is her rendition of the old familiar “Whispering Pines.” This new project from Donna is a pleasure to listen to, as is always can be expected from such a talented artist. (Hadley Music Group, P.O. Box 290184, Nashville, TN 37229, www.hadleymusicgroup.com.)BF