Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Old Crow Medicine Show "Remedy" Album Review

     Old Crow Medicine Show had quite a year in 2013.  They had a song they co-wrote hit number one on the country charts, embarked on a tour that saw them play shows across the United States and Europe, and became members of The Grand Ole Opry.  They are the epitome of the American Dream, going from literally playing for tips in front of the Opry to stars on the show.  And throughout that journey, they have stayed true to their style and sound, creating an iconic and memorable presentation that is inspiring and riveting.  Their latest output is titled Remedy, and as the title suggests, it is a perfect remedy for the often ailing world of country music.

     Old Crow Medicine Show's best quality is the reckless energy they pour into their music.  Their live shows are wild, unshackled intensity from the raise to the drop of the curtain.  They attack many songs on Remedy with the same passion.  The lead off track "Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer" is a fun romp, making light of the prison life while still keeping the angst of the situation.  "8 Dogs, 8 Banjos" is an absolute blast.  Nothing but straight up hillbilly music.  I don't know about the Nashville boys on the radio, but this is how I party.  "Brave Boys" is another high energy, banjo-driven track that gets your blood pumping.  "Tennessee Bound" is a song reminiscent of the early days of bluegrass, with a loose and free arrangement and bouncy rhythm.  Combined with "O Cumberland River", these two create a nice tribute to Tennessee and Nashville specifically.  "Shit Creek" keeps the high energy with a grittier style to prove even the fun songs have depth.

      While there is plenty of simple, unadulterated bluegrass jams on the album, Old Crow Medicine Show has something to say as well.  The sing-a-long style of "Sweet Home" paints a picture of old-timey rural life.  "Dearly Departed Friend" is a sweet and simple eulogy that is as subdued as it is effective.  Sometimes, just keeping it simple and truthful is the most effective way to tell a story.  "Mean Enough World" is a fun song that fights negativity with rip-roaring banjo and harmonica riffs.  "Doc's Day" is a fitting tribute to the great Doc Watson.  The song fits Doc in lyrics and sound, and proves that Old Crow holds their predecessors in high regard.  "Sweet Amarillo" is another Bob Dylan co-write, similar to "Wagon Wheel".  It matches "Wagon Wheel" in story and catchiness pound for pound.   "Sweet Amarillo" is a killer song.  It follows the story of a rodeo cowboy looking for his true love, with a melody that is so infectious you will be singing along by the second listen. It is easily the best on the album, and the album is fantastic.  "Firewater" is a mellow tune with a beautiful fiddle arrangement and some of the best harmonies on the album.  The album comes full circle with the fantastic closer "The Warden".  While "Bushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer" is more of a fun look at the prison life, "The Warden" is a bleak and introspective look at the psychology of the relationship between a prison warden and the way he is viewed by his inmates.  The contrast between the two songs is a perfect picture of the different sides of the band.

     Old Crow Medicine Show is making the best music of their lives.  After such a strong start right out of the box with "Wagon Wheel", OCMS was a little uneven in their approach, not sure if they wanted to be a folk band, a bluegrass band, a country band, or some combination of all three.  With their last album Carry Me Back and now Remedy, they have become masters of all three aspects of their sound.  They are more than just great folk, bluegrass, or country artists, they are simply great musicians.  With this album, they have an answer to what is wrong with music today.  This album is fun, high energy, truthful, meaningful, and full of musical mastery.  Remedy is the perfect remedy for your country music ills.  As always, Old Crow Medicine Show keeps it country kids!

Standout Tracks: "Sweet Amarillo", "The Warden", "8 Dogs, 8 Banjos", "Sweet Home", "Firewater"

"Sweet Amarillo"

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