on July 17, 2012
Old Crow Medicine Show's hiatus didn't last long: announcing the break around August 2011 only for it to be concluded by December 2011. The hiatus came with change though -- founding member Willie Watson and mandolist Cory Younts parted ways with the band, and founding member Chris Fuqua rejoined for recording. Even though the member lineup may have changed, the band's sound for CARRY ME BACK stayed largely the same (Willie is featured on many of these tracks).
Marked with stand-up bass, fiddles, mandolins, and acoustic guitars, Old Crow Medicine Show has a very old-timey sound. The band pulls the sound off well, pleasing both fans of folk and bluegrass. Opening and title track "Carry Me Back" is a brisk, bluegrass tune that is both a great way to start the album and good message-statement to the world. The album follows the pace set by this title track: CARRY ME BACK stays upbeat, and its brisk pace makes the album over before you even know it. That's not too say the album feels too brief (the album is 37:01) -- it just feels like a bunch of friends having a good time. When the band slows its pacing for a few songs, it's to good effect ("Genevieve" and "Ways of Man.") While the band feels somewhat anachronistic in the modern day, they do a good job sounding like authentic pre-World War II musicians.
CARRY ME BACK will please both newcomers to the band and longtime listeners. Fans of the folk-based sides of Mumford and Sons, Trampled by Turtles, and the Avett Brothers might enjoy what Old Crow Medicine Show has to offer. This album also marks a good place to start listening to the band -- even though the music is very niche, it's very accessible. However, if you weren't convinced by the band's past work, this album won't change your mind. Standout tracks to sample/download: "Carry Me Back," "We Don't Grow Tobacco," and "Genevieve." Although past efforts might be a bit more consistent (like O.C.M.S.), CARRY ME BACK is a great entry to the band's discography.
on August 2, 2012
Dear Music Appreciators,
I know of a pretty famous and oft-awarded pop bluegrass band that uses multiple lead singers, and honestly I get nervous whenever they switch away from their star vocalist because I'm afraid I'm not going to like those songs as much. Not so with Old Crow Medicine Show. For one thing, this isn't pop bluegrass is it - this sounds like some kind of cocaine fueled punk rock hillbilly house party.
OCMS seem to be a band in the best sense of the word. Not only are the members playing and harmonizing like a tightly-knit family, but they also have three outstanding lead vocalists - kind of like an all male redneck Fleetwood Mac I guess...but hopefully without the affairs. ..
There is an urgency, confidence, and authenticity to this music that is contagious. Notice the double-time tempo right out of the gate on album opener (and title song) "Carry Me Back." On "We Don't Grow Tobacco" there is something haunting about the singer's swaggering sadness, and when I heard the lines "I would chop that wicked weed / till our hands and fingers bleed / working like a mule, maybe more" I knew I would be hooked for the rest of the album. Then comes "Levi" - a touching, down-home, sing-along story song about Iraq war casualty Leevi Barnard. Three songs, three different flavors, not a phony second to be found - it's appropriate that the band name contains the word "show" - because just like an old-timey variety show the band seems to be care that its audience has a good time and there is a little something for everyone here.
And that's just the first quarter of the album.
This album made me feel like I was wearing a wife-beater with my hair slicked back and a cigarette behind my ear driving a beat up classic car fast down a dirt road in the deep south with the windows down.
Buy this, and get in touch with your inner hillbilly.
Garrison Keillor calls them an old-timey band, and that they are. It's bittersweet to hear this record and know that their sound will be significantly different from now on.
My personal favorite is Big Iron World, and this CD is not up to that level. Carry Me Back focuses more on the sizzling fiddle and less on the soaring harmonies. However, it's a good time, and there really isn't a weak track in the bunch.
The title track, Carry Me Back to Virginia, is written from the perspective of a soldier who fought with his brother in the Civil War. Track 3, Levi, extends the theme by portraying a country boy who fought and died in Iraq. Although the songs deal with classic tragic themes, the music is lively and inspiring. In fact, many of the songs here are pretty downbeat if you just focus on the lyrics, but the music lifts you up.
My favorite song is Country Gal. It is the lightest in tone and comes out of nowhere with a snippet of Hey Good Lookin' by Hank Williams. I love songs that you can sing along to the very first time you hear them.
The songs on this album reward continued listening. The lyrics are strong. These boys tell a good story, and each song is really a little party. The exception would be the final song, Ways of Man, which is more reflective and much quieter. It's an interesting way to end the album.
My favorite part of this band are the harmonies. You can't really get much better than OCMS singing I Hear Them All. The harmonies here are not as sustained or jubilant. Still a worthy addition to their canon. I really hope the group can evolve after the departure of Watson and Younts. Nobody else really does music the way they do, they have created their own niche. Mumford and Sons, Trampled by Turtles, Avett Brothers have similar characteristics, but to my mind OCMS inhabits "old-timey" like no one else.
on July 24, 2012
THIS IS AWESOME! It's the first thought that came to mind while I listened to this new OCMS release. I have to admit I was bracing for dissapointment after suffering through their last release 'Tennessee Pusher'. There was a few honorable mentions on that release, but overall it was a huge let down to me. I couldn't understand why they decided to reinvent the wheel after they had released their most sucessful album 'Big Iron World' to critical acclaim. However, 'Carry Me Back' finds Ketch and the crew back on track with a fervor that I have not really seen before. The writing and performances are excellent and show a lazer point focus. It's almost overblown - their way of saying sorry to the fans? Only time will tell.
Carry Me Back isn't really meant to be theme driven, but yet I do find a reoccuring theme in the beginning of the album. It's seems to point at the degradation of classic southern culture and the old way of life. It also shows that a country boy can survive by any means necessary, especially if that's all he has left. The first five songs echo this idea. Then we shift gears and start burning it up. 'Mississippi Saturday Night' and 'Steppin' Out' are definite barn burners. It's a hyper active ho-down. Then they slow it down a bit with 'Genevieve' so our heads don't explode. This is an interesting song from newer memeber Gill Landry and it's good to hear a new voice in the band. I have a feeling we'll be hearing more from Gill now that Willie Watson has left the band - Willie's leaving is very unfortunate. Next is a Kevin Hayes song 'Country Gal'. I always look forward to Kevin's songs because he's got a unique way of spinning a tune. He always delivers a fun and memorable sing-a-long and this time around is no different. 'Country Gal' harkens back to Big Iron World and I love it. The rest of the album is good but it starts to gradually wind down and have no problem with that. All in all, this new release is a fun ride and it demonstrates a higher level of skill from the OCMS. It's good to see them grow in their abilities and yet hold on to the old timey sound of their earlier releases. I higly recommend this record.
Unfortuantely this album brings forth yet more line-up changes for the band. Cris 'Critter' Fuqua left after they toured for Big Iron World (glad I got to see that tour) leaving a sizable hole to fill. Gill Landry was brought in to fill the position and he's done a really good job. However, filling Willie Watson's shoes is not going to be so easy. Critter was always more of a background guy where as Willie is a frontman with a big and unique voice. It's going to be tough to find someone of his caliber/talent and have the diehard fans accept it. Also, Cory Younts, the extra hand that does a little bit of everything in the band has parted ways too. This maybe very noticible during live performances. We will have to wait and see if Ketch Secor has any aces up his sleeve. For the band's and fan's sake, I sure hope that he does.
on July 17, 2012
"Carry Me Back" is another solid release by Old Crow Medicine Show. The band turns another corner in its song writing, showing marked maturity since "OCMS" and more complexity since "Tennessee Pusher," which was also very strong.
One of the most interesting developments in this release is the band's decision to return to an old-timey sound. "Tennessee Pusher" was an interesting and welcome separation from the more traditional sound that has been a feature of Old Crow's sound since emerging on the scene. "Carry Me Back" puts Ketch's fiddle and a frailing banjo back at the center. In addition, Ketch's rambling, gambling style of singing is back in full force. It's one of his strengths, so it's good to see he is rolling with it. It is also great to hear the songwriting contributions from other members. Aside from Ketch and Willie Watson, no other members made consistent, significant songwriting contributions in the past. The songs this time around are energetic, lyrical, and unique. It's great to hear the group's growth, which seems limitless.
The elephant in the room on this release is the presence of Willie Watson. He is no longer in the band but, as usual, he provides some of the strongest contributions. He is the strongest singer in the group, and his lyrics are the most sophistocated. I have no doubt that Old Crow will have success without Watson, but losing him is a heavy blow. In sports we talk about "special" players. These are the players who put their team in a position to win every time they are on the field. However, without this special player, the team is often above-average at best. This is the impact Watson has, both in the studio and live. He is a game changer, a special player, a star. I was shocked to hear that Watson left the group. Who knows why, but it must have been a big decision, both for the group and for Watson. Old Crow will have to regroup to replace his unparalelled contribution.
on March 12, 2014
I will admit that I've only recently fully delved into the experience that is Old Crow Medicine Show. I fell in love with "Wagon Wheel" when it came out, but, for some unexplainable reason, never took the further step of investigating deeper. I have this theory that it's not that a listener discovers music, but rather, the music finds the listener. There are plenty of occasions in the past when it took many listens to be rewarded by a multitude of different artists. Also, as I've gotten older, I find myself becoming more and more drawn to the various forms of traditional country music. So, it's not surprising Old Crow would find it's way into my favor.
For about two months now, I've delving deeper and deeper into Old Crow. After all, when a band can put out a perfect song such as "Wagon Wheel", there has to be more worth checking out, right? Well, yes...yes there is. I will say, as a Old Crow newbie, IMO, Carry Me Back is the most complete album in their catalog. All of the major label releases have their charms, but, Carry Me Back, to these ears sounds like their most focused and most accomplished. And, unlike, the previous album, Tennessee Pusher, there is a an overall joy in the music. Where Pusher has a distinct dark edge, even in Carry Me Back's less upbeat moments, there is a feeling of hope. The song-writing is top notch, the performances are electric and the playing is inspired. The highlights are many, from robust opener Carry Me Back to Virgina, to the breakneck workouts on Mississippi Saturday Night and Sewanee Mountain Catfight, to the touching salute to a country boy in the desert, Levi. There is not a bad moment on this record.
One of the unfortunate aspects of becoming a recent convert to the church of Old Crow, is realizing how much is going to be lost by the departure of Willie Watson. First of all, while Ketch Secor is the obvious center point to this band, it is also very obvious that Watson was an equal steward in Old Crow's success. From his sterling harmony vocals, to his tender, honey-sweet lead vocals, as well as his superb song-writing abilities and his on-stage energy, he pushed Secor, and helped this band to reach an artistic level that raised it above mere stylistic practitioner. His vocals on We Don't Grow Tobacco and Steppin' Out are incredible, It's hard to see where Old Crow will be headed on the next record. Fortunately, Gill Landry may be key, as his song-writing contributions of the aforementioned Steppin' Out and Mississippi Saturday Night are album highlights, and Genevieve, his other contribution, is strong in its own right. But, in watching You Tube videos of the bands live performances, it's obvious Watson was the perfect on-stage partner for Secor, and that element is missing live performances on the band post-Watson.
Many only minor quibble with Carry Me Back is the actual track sequence. There are times that it feels as if the band is on the verge of completely exploding performance-wise. The opening track and the Country Gal/Half Mile Down/Sewanee Mountain Catfight sequence are two such examples. But, the most obvious is the back-to-back of Mississippi Saturday Night/Steppin' Out, where the band is on fire, and the momentum gets sidetracked by Genevieve, a good song that feels like an unexpected speed bump. Momentum is later restored, but, IMO, the sequence might be better served by putting Genevieve before the ignition of Mississippi/Steppin' Out.
One other aspect is that, Old Crow may have found exactly what they are on this album. The southern milieu, southern themes...again, much more focused, but, nothing left-field like Don't Ride That Horse or Bobcat Tracks, this is a much traditional-sounding country album, and less "alternative" country than earlier efforts. Secor has said in interviews after the release of Carry Me Back that he felt the bang needed to get back to what they were. The departure of Watson removes some of the "folk" element he brought with his song-writing, and, much the opposite of Tennessee Pusher, there is nary a drug reference, which, for a band whose repertoire included "Cocaine Habit" and "Alabama High Test:" is quite the statement.
Taken on its own merits, Carry Me Back is a worthy addition to any fan of country music, be it traditional, alternative or simply Americana. The interesting thing to watch will be what the next album produces. And, in a way, as a new fan to the band, the departure of Watson worries me that I may have already missed the best of what this band has to offer.
on January 9, 2013
'Carry Me Back' is truly one of Old Crow Medicine Show's best albums, right up there with 'Big Iron World' and 'O.C.M.S.' This album was especially welcome following their 2008 release, 'Tennessee Pusher' which was a solid album but lacked some of the upbeat dance-along tunes that made me fall in love with these guys. 'Carry Me Back' brought back memories of their "older stuff", and reassured that these guys are one of the few modern bands that are keeping a high octane version of Dylan-influenced, true musical style alive.
Carry Me Back is an excellent album from start to finish, and there isn't a single bad song.
Here are my personal favorite tracks:
1. Carry Me Back
2. We Don't Grow Tobacco
4. Bootlegger's Boy
5. Ain't it Enough
6. Mississippi Saturday Night
7. Steppin' Out (Probably my favorite of them all!)
Although I cannot stress enough how much I love this album, its release is somewhat bittersweet. Barring an unexpected return, this will be the last album featuring Willie Watson, who left the band prior to the album's release. Watson sings lead on many of the O.C.M.S. classics (including several songs on this album). Even in songs where Willie didn't sing lead, his high-pitched harmonizing was always a staple in Old Crow Medicine Show Songs.
In my opinion, the true genius of Old Crow Medicine Show is (and always has been) Ketch Secor, but Willie brought a unique element to the band that fans will miss in future albums and live performances. The void has attempted to be filled by the re-joining of founding member, Critter Fuqua, who had left the band for a few years. However, from performances I've heard online, the band just doesn't sound the same since Willie Watson departed.
It will be interesting to see the changes in future albums. It is inevitable that the departure of Watson will have an effect on their sound. The show must go on, and I'm sure that O.C.M.S. will continue to be excellent. I hold on hope that Willie will return some day, but if not, I hope he is able to put out some solo albums. Either way, I'm sure he will always be remembered for his work with O.C.M.S.
For now, enjoy 'Carry Me Back'. Even though I'm sure the band will continue to be great, I'm just not sure they will be "as great" from this point forward.
on December 31, 2012
"Carry Me Back", Old Crow Medicine Show's fourth studio album might well be their best album yet. There is no doubt that with every album they release OCMS is continuing to expand and take bluegrass music to an entirely different direction. This ain't Bill Monroe or Earl Scruggs kind of bluegrass. It is more like alt-bluegrass or even punkgrass but as I mentioned in my review on Old Crow's album "OCMS" this ain't your daddy's bluegrass.
"Carry Me Back" is the liveliest album yet. The album kicks off in high gear right from the start with "Carry Me Back To Virginia" and then proceeds to take you through a range of slow pace then fast paced songs. And there is not a bad song in the bunch. This album really shows the range of music Old Crow can play. Plus with just about every member taking a turn as the lead singer on a song it really demonstrates just how accomplish a music group the band is. In many ways this album reminds me alot of their first studio album "OCMS". As in that first album you can tell the group is having a lot of fun in the recording studio and they play off each other well. As a result it is a total joy to listen too. The only difference is "Carry Me Back" is more lively and faster paced.
For us fans of OCMS it was shocking news to hear that the group was going on a hiatus a little over a year ago. I wondered just what was going on and if this might have meant the end of the group. During that time the band lost Willie Watson (which was sad news for me to hear since he was one of my favorites in the group) but they did regain Critter Fuqua one of the original members of the group who had left after they had released their album "Big Iron World". Any fears we fans may have had about the group has been put to rest with their newest album. They are not going away and in fact are coming back stronger then ever. Although he is no longer with the group Willie does appear on this album. Apparently his decision to leave came after recording the music for this album.
If you consider yourself a fan of OCMS then you got to get this album. You will not be disappointed. If you are someone who doesn't like bluegrass I say give this record a listen. Any conceptings you have about that style of music will be changed when you hear what Old Crow has done to bluegrass.
on October 16, 2012
They are BACK. Love this album. Its their best album since OCMS.
I was a little concerned with the path they were taking with their last album, Tennessee Pusher. However, for all of those who were fans and are more comfortable with the sounds from OCMS or before, this is more in that ballpark. Not nearly as edgy as Pusher, but produced as well, if not better.
Uptempo chunka chunka, that blazes through lots of toe tapping stuff that I guarantee will piss off your office neighbor due to your toe tapping. I am guilty of the finger drumming, but luckily my office cube mate is patient. Or seems that way until he kills me, or complains to HR. Until them... I'm gonna tap away, because OCMS brings the party.
I don't want to spoil anything, but from the Irish-influenced hoedown in Carry Me Back to the honky-tonk plunk of We Don't Grow Tobacco... to the beautiful fiddle and banjo harmony of Levi you get the feel you are getting the listening to a group that has a modern spin on a foot stuck in the past. They bring a lot of looks to the party, using different vocal leads, wild swings in pace, showing both polish and edge... and I totally dig on the way they seem to create the image/sound of old time bands all wearing the same poly suit where they hurl yarns around a single mic.
Probably listened to this album 15 times so far and it feels so beautifully comfortable. For me, that's a good thing. My favorite songs... the attitude on Steppin' Out and the perfect balance of sound in Levi.
on July 18, 2012
I am a huge fan of all of Old Crow's albums up until their last one, which was Tennessee Pusher. It was way too twangy and county-pop-ish (if that makes sense), whereas up until then all of their albums were closer to bluegrass and old-time, which is why I fell in love with the group to begin with. Don't change what ain't broken, right?
Now with Carry Me Back, Old Crow has returned to their former glory: all-out bluegrass that is closer in musical style to their Eutaw and O.C.M.S. albums. At the same time, though, this album definitely has its own distinguishable sound that proves the band is constantly growing and maturing. In my opinion the CD as a whole is a little edgier and rawer, especially for Old Crow, with more bluegrass and less old-time. Obviously this is debatable. Either way, if you love Old Crow for their previous albums but were disappointed with Tennessee Pusher, then you'll continue to love them with this release. I found there to be several strong tracks on this album during my first listen-through, which is a pretty good indication to me that it's a solid collection of songs. There is much good to be said about the lyrics for many of the songs, as well, especially for those such as "Carry Me Back" and "Levi." Any fans of Hackensaw Boys, Trampled by Turtles, Carolina Chocolate Drops, or bluegrass/old-time/folk in general should definitely pick this one up.