Old Crow Medicine Show "Remedy"

Old Crow mix up a concoction of old timey and Bluegrass music, with punk rebel attitude

Any album that begins with a song called “Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer” has a darn good chance of being a hoot. Follow that up with a song called “8 Dogs 8 Banjos” and you’re in for a whole hootenanny! Old Crow Medicine Show’s Remedy is a bona fide jamboree, a barefoot-dirt-slappin’, pull on your suspenders and start a-clappin’ affair. In a bad mood? Take a listen to these good ole boys and get over your sullen ways. Life is short and it’s time to party.

The thirteen tracks on Remedy are mostly high energy thumpers, bursting with fiddles, banjos, guitars, and harmonica. Old Crow keeps it real, with a mix of old-timey and bluegrass melodies. Their harmonies are rooted in the traditions created by the original stars of The Grand Old Opry, and yet modern elements keep this band firmly cemented in the here and now including lyrical content. Although folks have always written about sex, drinking, and patriotism Old Crow’s approach is distinctly, bluntly, 21st century. “Mean Enough World” details the nasty elements of human behavior with the caveat “It’s already mean enough without you.” “Firewater” deals with alcohol’s numbing effects.  Much has been made of “Sweet Amarillo” a song inspired by a snippet of a ditty Bob Dylan began but never finished. Old Crow completes it with Dylan’s input and blessing. “Doc’s Day” pays tribute to Doc Watson, the man who gave the boys their first big break, while “Sweet Home” throws a bit of swing into the stew.

Just as easily as this band can get you dancing and grinning they can turn the page and bring you to tears. “Dearly Departed Friend” is another song about a lost soldier, and yet it isn’t just another song. Although the subject matter sadly has been tread before the voice of the narrator is so real he can’t be ignored. When he sings of flags blowing in the wind and yellow ribbons tied around trees the sentiment has been cut by the pathos of acknowledging the role of the U.S.s military industrial complex.

Old Crow Medicine Show owes as much to punk as they do country and that raw emotion is never far from breaking through. Still the band was newly inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. Whether that’s a reflection of The Opry’s willingness to expand its vision or due to the band’s undeniable talent is in the ear of the beholder. Enjoy beholding.

 

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)