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On placing the latest album from North Carolina’s finest, the Old Crow Medicine Show I did not know what to make of the breakneck paced opening cut “Flicker & Shine”. I felt it sounded more like a throwaway, fill-in sing-a-long track but as the song developed I became more settled (though still with reservations) and with the busy “A World Away” next up the boys (Ketch Secor, Critter Fuqua, Cory Younts, Morgan Jahnig, Chance McCoy and Kevin Hayes) steady the boat and then some.
By the time you get to “Child Of Mississippi” they are cooking. Old fashioned southern style as they sing about riverboat wanderings of a past age and how those in the story knew every stretch of river and rail road bridge and love that muddy water most of all. Fabulous stuff. Nice work as a little harmonica, upright bass and banjo propel the lead vocals to a position of note. Better still you have the Johnny Horton styled “Dixie Avenue”; now this is going to be a huge live favourite. Primed in a hook rhythm and good old honest playing its an ace!
“Look Away” is a Southern battle cry, and with it offering a melancholy feel as they reflect on the mournful call of the Mockingbird, and of how cold buttermilk and honey mean more than a bagful of money. They sing of how their heart will never leave ol’ Dixieland, the record, Volunteer becomes more appetising with ever track. On going lickety split the boys whip up a storm as old time mountain music is given new life on the banjo and harmony (enthusiastic) vocal plied “Shout Mountain Music”. If you can keep your feet still, and rear end sat on a seat listening to this you are in the minority.
“The Good Stuff“ with generous helpings of fiddle to go with upright bass etc is about ‘good’ liquor, and as if to enable the listener to regain their breath next up the easy paced ballad “Old Hickory” follows. If you like nothing better than a poetic story-ballad,“Homecoming Party” is good enough to leave others in its wake. It caught me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting such rare quality. Great lead vocals too. Then again the album is produced by Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson etc).
On close down you have the swirling, fiddle charged instrumental “Elzicks Farewell”, and low and behold they round the album off with another terrific piece of storytelling via “Whirlwind”. My little piece of wisdom to share is, don’t judge the album by the opening track!
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