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CD REVIEW

Old Crow Medicine Show: Volunteer

by Ryan Reed on June 04, 2018
 
“I made a deal with the devil, so I/ Get to live on the highway until I die,” Old Crow Medicine Show proclaim on their sixth studio album. Indeed, Volunteer , like the rest of the wild string band’s discography, sounds like the work a band possessed: full of punk energy and boot-stomping bluegrass passion. Working with producer Dave Cobb (Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell), the sextet aimed to inject a little rock edge into their latest LP. They tapped into the back-porch Southern rocker wisdom of Lynyrd Skynyrd on several cuts—from the slide-laced “Child of the Mississippi” to the fiddle-led “Old Hickory” (a sort of modern update on “The Ballad of Curtis Loew”) to the somberly strummed “Look Away” (which also recalls the dreamy “two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl” cadence of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”). Fittingly, the band also utilized electric guitars for the first time 2004, offering a Telecaster twang to country-folk tunes like “Dixie Avenue,” which hilariously manages to recall both The Osborne Brothers’ Tennessee anthem “Rocky Top” and Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” with its yelped vocal melody. It’s not a typical Americana move— but then again, Old Crow has never been a typical Americana band. Sure, certain cuts adhere closely to bluegrass/country tradition, from the generic rave-ups of “Shout Mountain Music” and “Elzick’s Farewell.” But even with these lesser moments, you emerge with a goofy smile plastered to your mug.
Authors: Ryan Reed
Artist: Old Crow Medicine Show
Album: Volunteer
Label: COLUMBIA NASHVILLE