Old Crow Medicine Show, Tennessee Pusher

Keith Harris

By Keith Harris

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Tennessee Pusher

Old Crow Medicine Show
Old Crow still sound like themselves. Thankfully!

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."