How to Grow a Woman from the Ground
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2006, Volume 13, #9
Written by John Metzger
Over the course of the past few years, Sean Watkins and Chris Thile have been alternating solo releases that have made it readily apparent as to what each brings to their primary outfit Nickel Creek. Watkins’ efforts, such as Blinders On and 26 Miles, have been gently melodic, folk-pop extravaganzas; while Thile’s projects, such as Deceiver and Live Duets, have been decidedly more eclectic and adventurous. On his fifth solo outing How to Grow a Woman from the Ground, Thile again proves that he’s willing to try anything once. In tackling both The White Stripes’ Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground and The Strokes’ Heart in a Cage, he improbably converts the former into a bucolic back porch romp and the latter into an easy-going country ramble. Stripped of their ruggedness, neither track is wholly successful, but each offers a delightful diversion from the rest of the roots-oriented set. Elsewhere, Thile more convincingly tackles Jimmie Rodgers’ Brakeman’s Blues, but his own compositions — the jam-friendly instrumentals Watch ’at Breakdown and The Beekeeper, each of which features some of the album’s most intricately intertwined instrumentation, as well as the beautiful devastation of You’re an Angel and I’m Gonna Cry — are what serve as the collection’s highlights. Though there are a few tunes that fall completely flat — most notably, Stay Away and I’m Yours If You Want Me — the bulk of How to Grow a Woman from the Ground is remarkably engaging. Not only is it Thile’s finest outing to date, but it also compares quite favorably to Nickel Creek’s own canon.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box