Donna Ulisse releases new LP
“Seven lonely days make one lonely week / Seven lonely nights make one lonely me” sings Donna Ulisse in her song “Seven Lonely Days,” a prime bluegrass tune found on the new album Time for Love, every verse brimming with the kind of melodic color that you can’t find very often anymore in pop music. Ulisse’s top of the line vocal work has always been one of the biggest reasons to give her songs an extra close inspection, but in Time for Love, she actually outdoes herself with regards to what most of her loyal fans were likely expecting out of this latest release.
An immaculate lead vocal isn’t the only treasure in the chest of epic tonality that this record is, but it’s absolutely one of the main elements tying everything together here. In songs like “Get on Home Boy,” “Hi Lonesome” and “Come to Jesus Moment,” Ulisse’s singing is what binds all of the different string parts together in a single harmony, and although she’s not necessarily doing anything that she’s failed to accomplish in the past here, she’s flexing serious muscles with the mic in this incredibly well-put together LP.
There isn’t a lot of rhythmic urgency in “I’m Not Afraid” and “A Little Less Gone,” but these songs aren’t any less affecting than “Heart of Rosine,” or “Red Top Mountain Road” are; if anything, they’re even more rousing in certain respects. Ulisse doesn’t have to constantly max out her adrenaline to infectiously spread her passion to us – truth be told, I think that Time for Love is probably more accessible to listeners because it isn’t weighed down with a smorgasbord of blistering breakdowns and Appalachian-clad folk verses that might not have carried over as well with younger audiences as they would an older generation of bluegrass fans.
The master mix is beefy and structured with a lightly scooped equalization on a lot – if not all – of the string parts, but it isn’t so steeped in physicality that we feel like we’re under attack during the fiercest moments of the album. I don’t usually come away feeling as moved by a country swinger like “My Whole World is Standing Still” as I am by a ballad like “I’ll Never Find Another You,” but because of the equilibrium in the production value, every song in Time for Love feels on par with the one sitting beside it in the tracklist.
You would be hard-pressed to find another bluegrass LP quite like this one in or outside of the underground beat this November, and it’d greatly surprise me if I was the only critic saying as much right now. Time for Love is another smashing record in a long string of hot releases from Donna Ulisse, and with any luck, it will provide us with only a glimpse into the future of her music and the genre that guides her work. She’s ending 2019 with a bang, which only makes me wonder just what she’s got in store for us in the next decade to come. No matter what it is, she’ll be on my radar into 2020 and beyond for sure.