After two discs produced by Gillian Welch mainstay David Rawlings, Nashville's savviest old-time band enlists big name Don Was behind the boards — and damn if they still don't sound exactly like themselves. And that's a good thing. Critter Fuqua's top-flight picking anchors the band's musicianship, while multi-instrumentalist and singer Ketch Secor provides the flash upfront. Sure, their take on Blind Alfred Reed's "Lift Him Up" is heartfelt enough to make you wish they'd taken on a few more covers here, especially since their lyrics can get a little soppy ("The Greatest Hustler of All") or lazy ("That Evening Sun"). But the original material kicks off with a pair of very different, very smart road songs — the bootlegger's jaunt "Alabama High Test" and the roadside reverie of "Highway Halo" — and they do right by their Nashville liberal roots as well. If the MLK eulogy "Motel in Memphis" ("You would swear it was more than a man who died") plays it a mite safe politically, they root themselves firmly in the present with the grim "Methamphetamine," which proclaims, "There's a war out there and it's fought by poor white men" that limits a man's choices to "either the mine or the Kentucky National Guard."
By Wondering Sound Staff on 12.09.14 in Lists
Wondering Sound's staff picks 2014's best country music, from bros to outlaws, veterans to up-and-comers.
By Stephen M. Deusner on 07.02.14 in Reviews
Old Crow Medicine Show have been around for more than a decade, but their best-known song is far older than they are. Their cover of "Wagon Wheel," a 40-year-old Bob Dylan sketch, was covered by Darius Rucker, and Dylan...
By Barry Walters on 06.05.14 in Features
Barry Walters on White's new LP 'Lazaretto'
By Wondering Sound Staff on 12.06.12 in Collections
It can be difficult keeping up with the weekly avalanche of new music, but if you've missed out on the recent crop of releases from ATO Records, you're doing yourself a serious injustice. There's the rollicking update on...