Old Crow Medicine Show
Big Iron World
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2006, Volume 13, #8
Written by John Metzger
On its self-titled debut, Old Crow Medicine Show found that it had a sympathetic musical partner in producer David Rawlings. Big Iron World continues their relationship, while adding a guest appearance by Gillian Welch — on drums, no less. Similar themes about life, death, and spiritual awakening pervade the endeavor, and its rustic outlook takes aim directly at the working class. Classic folk tunes such as Noah Lewis’ Minglewood Blues, Woody Guthrie’s Union Made, and Leadbelly’s Cocaine Habit are delivered as vibrant, fun-filled jaunts, and taking a page from the Rolling Stones’ play book, the group places its own distinctive spin upon Down Home Girl, the Arthur Butler/Jerry Leiber-penned hit for the Coasters. Instead of propelling it with a swampy groove, however, Old Crow Medicine Show transforms it into a drawling, backwoods ditty that is laced with a harmonica riff that either pays tribute to The Beatles or pokes fun at its early innocence.
As for the original compositions on Big Iron World, they fit seamlessly alongside the cover selections. Wandering among its influences, Old Crow Medicine Show effortlessly shifts from the twang-y folk of Robert Earl Keen (My Good Gal) to the rolling, pop-infused bluegrass of Sweetheart of the Rodeo-era Byrds (I Hear Them All) to the driving rock of Bob Dylan (Bobcat Tracks), while also finding time to deliver a rousing spiritual (God’s Got It) as well as a buoyant country-folk song about outsourcing (James River Blues). Attempts to merge old-time string band arrangements with the adrenaline rush of rock ’n‘ roll aren’t new, of course. Nevertheless, Old Crow Medicine Show’s amiable style and its enthusiastic performance transform Big Iron World’s material into something that is remarkably refreshing. ½
Of Further Interest...
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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