Old Crow Medicine Show, Carry Me Back

Amanda Petrusich

By Amanda Petrusich

on 07.17.12 in Reviews
Spirit trumps nearly everything else

Folk music purists might argue that Old Crow Medicine Show don’t actually play traditional bluegrass, old-time country, or any of the other Americana labels they routinely get slapped with. There’s a certain punkish disregard to the band’s frenzied acoustic tangle — which nods to the last hundred years of American vernacular music, from the Carter Family through Black Flag — and spirit trumps nearly everything else. Carry Me Back, the band’s latest LP, follows a substantial personnel change (Willie Watson, once a lead vocalist and guitar player, was officially replaced by founding member Critter Fuqua, who’d been notably M.I.A. for the last several years), but the band’s heart is still intact: Carry Me Back is full of hometown longing (the album’s title track), harmonica-honking odes to once-in-a-lifetime love (“Ain’t It Enough”), and hard-time, pass-the-jug stompers (“Mississippi Saturday Night”). It confirms somewhat definitively that Americana is, in fact, more a feeling than a sound — and that feeling is something like joy.