October 2004

Jerry Douglas - Lookout for Hope
Sugar Hill SUG-SACD-3971
Released: 2002

by Roger Kanno

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

A virtuoso of the Dobro guitar, Jerry Douglas is a highly sought-after session musician who has recorded with James Taylor, Paul Simon, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Emmylou Harris, Clint Black, Reba McEntire, Randy Travis, and Dolly Parton to name a few. He’s appeared on over 1000 albums (Yes, you read right, over 1000 albums) and he’s currently a member of Union Station with Alison Krauss.

Douglas’ latest solo album is a collection of mostly instrumental bluegrass selections. There is no questioning Douglas’ talent when he cuts loose with his considerable skill on "Patrick Meets the Brickbats." Other tracks such as "Monkey Let the Hogs Out" and "Cave Bop" also showcase his lightning-fast slide and pick work, but it is the more subdued tracks, such as "Little Martha," that really show off his mastery of the Dobro. With just a bass guitar backing him, he demonstrates that he can convey plenty of emotion in addition to his amazing technical prowess. There are fiery, fast-paced compositions, while others are more sedate, and a couple of songs feature guest vocalists, including James Taylor on a wonderful version of "The Suit."

The recording quality of this album is first-rate. While the Dobro will immediately grab your attention, Maura O’Connell’s voice on "Footsteps Fall" is beautifully recorded, as is Taylor’s. In fact, the vocals are so well recorded, I wish there were more of them on this album. However, the instrumental cuts sound excellent, with sharp image outlines and a clean, unrestrained quality. Even though this is a stereo SACD, there is plenty of ambiance and depth. The drums on "The Wild Rumpus" sound as if they were recorded in a huge studio, and the solo Dobro on "Little Martha" is simply spectacular. Lookout For Hope is a great-sounding album with several tracks that are absolute gems.