There is no shortage of impressive truths about Alison Krauss and Union Station. Krauss has a beautiful and tender voice; the musicianship of the band, rooted in bluegrass, is secure, able and at times, spirited; and songs about the perils and pleasures, along with a few story songs concerning long ago, distinguish them on a host of levels. But in touring to support a greatest hits album that features five new tracks, Krauss gets stuck in a sea of sameness that’s devoid of any sparkling moments.
Rare in her two-hour perf is a moment when Krauss gives any of the music a swift kick in the pants. Most of the songs are played at midtempo, save for some ballads, and when those slow ones, “Ghost in This House,” for example, come in, the perf grinds to a halt.
The precision with which each tune is performed does the faithful a kind service: She plays into the audience’s memory of a tune’s magic. And since it appears that she has yet to record that one song that resonates with her entire fan base, Krauss accepts the burden of creating a show that mirrors her albums.
And it’s not just about the more familiar recent numbers: Krauss reached back 15 years to pull out Karla Bonoff’s “Lose Again,” a delightful surprise.
None of bluegrass’s loosey-goosey feeling, nor its emphasis on blazing fast instrumentals, plays any part in the Union Station show; similarly, there are only glimpses of the influence of old-time country music that she recorded for “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and “Cold Mountain.”
Krauss and Union Station will perform at the Beacon Theater in New York on Aug. 2.