All Music Guide
Maura O'Connell continues her winning streak on Don't I Know, inviting some of the industry's best songwriters and studio musicians to highlight her spectacular voice. Although she began her life and musical career in Ireland, O'Connell has one of the most uniquely American voices in Nashville today, and her choice of material has long been the only thing rivaling her voice as far as quality goes. This album is no exception, as O'Connell honors songs by Patty Griffin, Tim O'Brien, Jim Lauderdale, Kim Richey, and newcomer Mindy Smith, who provides a strong contribution in "Going Down in Flames." Working again with producer Jerry Douglas, O'Connell has similarly surrounded herself with some of the best musicians in the contemporary folk family, including Viktor Krauss, Edgar Meyer, Russ Barenberg, and of course Douglas on Dobro and lap steel. Highlights include O'Connell's own "There's No Good Day for Dying" and the Patty Griffin song "Up and Flying," both of which are soul-baring explorations into love, life, and moving on in one way or another. The album culminates in the stark and haunting "Time to Learn" which, although darkly minimal, offers glimmers of sunlight and hope in the cracks of the stone walls her songs construct.