The words "slow burner" have been coming up in conversations
about new releases more and more these days
It seems to be a
rare commodity for an album to be released that immediately grabs
hold of an audience in its entirety. There are tracks that jump out
and scream "Single!" (not always the ones I would pick,
certainly), but to be rapt by an entire album the first listen seems
a scarcity. The newest release from Nickel Creek is a slow
for me, at least. While the album is immediately likeable
and pleasant to listen to, the depth of songwriting takes a bit longer
to find a good grasp. Chris Thile's songwriting has matured
incredibly, as has that of the Watkins siblings, Sean
and the beautiful Sarah.
The album kicks off with the first single, "When In Rome".
The truth is quickly revealed that this is the real barnburner for
the record. The beat is weighty and deliberate, creating a heavy underscore
for the politically charged lyrics. "Somebody More Like You"
is a beautiful song, a ballad of regret and loss, built on excellent
Spanish flavored guitar and crisp mandolin. "Jealous Of The Moon"
leans towards the jazzy side a bit, but not distractingly so, leading
into the sunny and fast paced instrumental "Scotch & Chocolate".
Slowing things down and creating a trancey dirge on "Can't Complain",
Chris and Sarah harmonize beautifully. The Bob Dylan-penned
"Tomorrow Is A Long Time" is a nice showcase for the crystal
vocals of Sarah Watkins, and the accompanying mandolin playing is
intricate and wonderful. This song alone would make the album more
than worth the listen. "Stumptown" builds on a light stomp
rhythm, and rises to one of the most impressive and tuneful instrumental
recordings in recent memory. Sarah's vocal performance on "Anthony"
is very nice, as the song is produced to sound like an old LP being
played through lo-fi speakers. "Doubting Thomas" re-affirms
Chris Thile's position in modern music, not only as a brilliant player,
but as a thoughtful and intricate lyricist. "Helena" builds
from a quiet porch ballad to a pure form Nickel Creek cacophony of
sound - one of the most dynamic and energetic tracks on the album.
Which leads into the melancholy and haunting "Why Should The
Fire Die?", which creates a peaceful, if somewhat sad, ending
for the listen.
So, while there are no songs that leave the ear awestruck on the
first listen, it takes but a small bit of patience to uncover the
pearls hidden inside these murky shells. And every second of every
song becomes as important as any other fine modern bluegrass recording.
Nickel Creek continues to astound fans of the genre, as well as
bringing in new listeners by creating some of the finest and most
beautiful of newgrass songs.
And Sarah, if you're reading this, let's us have a nice cozy lunch
next time you're in town.
1. When In Rome
2. Somebody More Like you
3. Jealous Of The Moon
4. Scotch & Chocolate
5. Can't Complain
6. Tomorrow Is A Long Time
10. Best Of Luck
11. Doubting Thomas
12. First And Last Waltz
14. Why Should The Fire Die?
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