The Golden West

Though I’ve been a bluegrass fan for more years than I care to count, I’d somehow never taken particular note of Laurie Lewis until I saw her open for Ralph Stanley at Laxson Auditorium last month. The second song she performed that night was called “Quiet Hills” (from the album Guest House)—and it made me an instant fan. It was one of those rare transcendent offerings, a secular prayer and a lamentation. Most of the songs were from The Golden West, her latest album, and bluegrass just doesn’t get any sweeter or more harmonious. “Your Eyes” is a funny little hymn on the powers of flirtation, and “Bury Me in Bluegrass” is an achingly sweet song of sorrow and celebration. “Live Forever” is a Billy Joe Shaver cover and, in the words of a friend of mine, it’s a piss cutter. As if the harmonies she makes with her band aren’t good enough, she has Linda Ronstadt singing backup with her on a couple of these tracks. But don’t take my word for how good she is; just ask anyone who was in that audience at Laxson when Laurie & the Right Hands came to town.