"Call it 'grad school country.' Adrienne Young's The Art of Virtue is a brainy amalgam of Americana that draws its inspiration from Benjamin Franklin's self-help regimen, New World folk songs and old-time string band sounds...Of the 15 cuts on the album, Young wrote, co-wrote or arranged 11. She also produced the album for her own AddieBelle Records label and plays guitar and banjo on it. Her primary co-writers are Will Kimbrough and Mark D. Sanders (of "I Hope You Dance" fame)...A measure of Young's appeal is the quality of talent she attracted to record with her on The Art of Virtue. Besides the first-rate pickers in her Little Sadie band, there's organist David Briggs (on her cover of the Grateful Dead's "Brokedown Palace"), bassist Mike Bub, banjoist Rob McCoury from the Del McCoury Band, guitarist Tim Stafford from Blue Highway, multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplan and country-bluegrass stalwart Tim O'Brien (on "Greensleaves").
'When you have joy and happiness about you,' Young concludes, 'and you're just trying to do something good and make people feel valued and cherished, then [musicians like these] are drawn to your project.'" Edward Morris cmt.com
5.0 out of 5 stars Consummate musicians, charged-up arrangements, thoughtful messages, and bright and breezy vocalizing, July 1, 2005
By J. Ross "a-music_fan" (Roseburg, OR USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)
Playing Time - 58:15 -- Adrienne Young has a unique flair in her music that is an enchanting mix of old-time and pop with 21st century musical keenness and business acumen. Young's astute approach involves association with consummate musicians, charged-up arrangements, thoughtful messages, and bright and breezy vocalizing. Like her debut "Plow to the End of the Row," Young's sophomore effort, "The Art of Virtue," is on her own Addiebelle Records. One has to appreciate this talented, young lady's self-confidence as she continues to build her resume in a very competitive field.
"The Art of Virtue" was inspired in part by Ben Franklin's `virtues of man' writings and stories. Songs like "My Sin is Pride" and "My Love Will Keep" and "Wedding Rings" emphasize the themes of morality, goodness, and high levels of integrity. Her messages might have a nostalgic look back to yesteryear, but her music is very contemporary and soothing. There's certainly nothing wrong with a thematic album that appeals to us in a visceral way "down where the roots grow deep." Ballads like "Ella Arkansas" and "Rastus Russell" paint powerful pictures and tell engaging stories while incorporating country and acoustic blues riffs.
Art of Virtue features Young's proficient songwriting, some reinvented old-time fiddle tunes, the gospel standard "Farther Along," and the Grateful Dead's classic "Brokedown Palace." A Zydeco-flavored "Wedding Rings" is a spirited performance that gets us up and cutting a bean, while "Don't Get Weary" is an old-timey offering with frailed banjo, guitar, bones, resonator guitar, and voices. Young's lyrics offer mature and solid advice, usually gained from a lifetime of experience. Her smarts and wisdom belie her age.
A grad of Belmont University's music business program, Young's career took off after winning the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest. Her "Plow to the End of the Row" CD earned a Grammy nomination for album design. On "The Art of Virtue," Young's songwriting exhibits honesty and a natural inclination to create lyrical and melodic treasures. Her singing shines with its greatest lustre on the slower songs, while a few pieces (like "Don't Get Weary") portray a more arduous side to her voice. An uptempo "Farther Along" is an interesting bluegrass presentation that certainly works, but her greatest success is as a storyteller of original folk tales. Young's parables put to music are very likeable. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice bluegrass and more, September 26, 2005
By CollectedSounds "www.collectedsounds.com" (Minneapolis, Minnesota USA) - See all my reviews
Adrienne Young has a great honky-tonk voice that is perfect here. It hops and twangs just like the music.
The music is all fiddles, banjo, guitars, bass, drums and of course that fabulous voice. When the harmonies are present they are spot on. Perfect sounding.
The tempo makes you want to move.
I like to mention that packing if it blows me away. This one did. It's beautiful. The CD comes in one of those cardboard fold-out-into-three-parts cases. Inside is a little book called The Thirteen Virtues so you can keep track of your virtues daily. Then there's the "liner notes" book. Complete with all the lyrics, origins of songs, etc. The package also contained a sticker and a little card with the band info on it. All done in the same beautifully styled artwork that is on the cover. This CD is a great package all around, musically as well as artistic marketing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great songs in great packaging, March 20, 2007
By Argus Hamilton (Atlanta, Georgia) - See all my reviews
I could not believe the awesome packaging this CD came in when it arrived. In addition to extensive liner notes with all the lyrics printed, there was a sticker of the cover, a book of virtue charts created by Benjamin Franklin, a card with a free download, and a lot of other extras. I am a big B. Franklin fan, so this was a more than pleasant surprise.
Now, the music. WOW! I am a card-carrying bluegrass/folk fan, but have found some recent offerings to be lacking. NOT THIS ONE! This is great music, pure and simple. Sample "Art of Virtue", "My Sin is Pride", "Hills and Hollers", and "Brokedown Palace". I heard Adrienne on Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" do "Brokedown Palace" and knew I wanted to hear more.
Finding that the CD was co-produced by Will Kimbrough factored into my enjoyment. I followed Will's early music career with Will & the Bushmen and always loved his style and songwriting.
This is a great CD folks. Even your friends that do not listen to folk/bluegrass will like it.