Jerry Douglas became the best-known Dobro player in the world by taking his instrument to places it had never been. Traveler is his most mainstream release to date, but it remains a bold step forward. The album’s guests range from the not-so-surprising Alison Krauss and Union Station, Keb’ Mo’ and Marc Cohn to the more inspired likes of Mumford & Sons, Paul Simon, Dr. John and Eric Clapton. Slowhand’s fervid vocal turn and honeyed guitar on the soul chestnut “Something You Got” make for one of his most honest performances in years, while Krauss’ nakedly open “Frozen Fields” will melt any listener with a heart. The Mumfords help transform Simon’s “The Boxer” into an epic choral sing-along, and the instrumental medley of his “American Tune” and Chick Corea’s “Spain” makes for an ingenious pairing. Douglas’ virtuosity is never far from center, and his original compositions—particularly the set-closing “King Silkie”—are smartly conceived and expertly executed. –Jeff Tamarkin

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