Big Iron World is the sophomore collection of songs by Old Crow Medicine Show, who once again dive headlong into the musical past and return with a few time-tested themes for the present. These themes spring from the hardest hitting notes of America's music vernacular, tapped from sources deep in the ground but refi ned and redefi ned by fresh new voices. Work Songs, Play Songs, Blues Songs, Drug Songs, Protest Songs, Killin' Songs, Love Songs, and a few songs about Spiritual Renewal: tunes like tungsten to scorch the night. All these pulses with the stabbing beat that only OCMS can deliver. The firebrand bass slap of Morgan Jahnig, the "put a little mustard on it" rake of Kevin Hayes' guitjo, the drilling banjo fever of Critter Fuqua, the hell-bent fiddling of Ketch Secor, the red hot attack of Willie Watson guitar, the gunfire crack of Gillian Welch's drums, all expertly harnessed and finely tuned by the precise ear of producer David Rawlings. Crank it up, dial it in, pour it on. Welcome to the Big Iron World.
A concept album about gigantic household appliances taking over the world? No such luck. As the images of Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Sun-era Elvis floating in the background might indicate, this Nashville band is strictly old school, singing about unemployed riverboat workers, covering Woody Guthrie and plucking banjos like there was no tomorrow. Produced by David Rawlings, Big Iron World boasts the expected barnstormers ("Cocaine Habit") and late-night meditations ("God's Got It") alongside a handful of folkie sing-a-longs ("Down Home Girl") and a thoroughly unexpected reference to Karl Rove. And where else are you going to hear songstress Gillian Welch banging away on the drums? --Aidin Vaziri