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Some Strange Country

4.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 18, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Crooked Still's 4th album Some Strange Country is an elegant package of superbly crafted musical styles taking country/folk as the deep foundation and veering off into exhilarating and exciting directions. It's amazing music and it can hardly be called "bluegrass" or be locked into one genre. Where Ray Charles gave us Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music back in 1962, Crooked Still bring those expressions into the new millennium. Recorded during a long blizzard in rural Virginia, Some Strange Country expands on the band's unique blend of Appalachian-based string band styles combining with chamber music strings and pop sensibility, all supporting Aoife O'Donovan's sultry and sometimes spooky vocals. The album was produced by Gary Paczosa (Alison Krauss, Nickel Creek) and features guest contributions of bluegrass legends Ricky Skaggs and Tim O'Brien and vocals from rising star Sarah Jarosz. There are several gorgeous original songs along side adaptations of tradition numbers from
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 18, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Signature Sounds
  • ASIN: B003CJXIS2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,160 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Morley on July 20, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The first time that I heard any of Crooked Still's music was on an NPR broadcast on a Sunday afternoon. I was (fortunately) on a fairly long drive and therefore something of a captive audience. NPR only featured one of the songs on Some Strange Country, but it was enough to send me scrambling for information and music excerpts as soon as I got home. The CD was such a new release that my local library didn't have it. I was so captivated by the one song that I heard ("Half of What We Know") that I decided to buy the recording without hearing any of the other tracks. What an unexpected and rich audio experience! I've been the Crooked Still missionary in my community here in Wisconsin and several other people are now Crooked Still fans. There is some similarity (to my ear anyway) to Nickel Creek and even reminiscent of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, but those similarities are incidental and this CD is not about copying anyone's style. They are really worth a listen, and I admit to going on to purchase the other Crooked Still releases. Great music from a great new (to me) band, and I can't recommend them highly enough.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I have been a Crooked Still fan from the beginning. I really liked their album "Shaken By a Low Sound" and was hoping that the group would return to that kind of sound. After a few line-up changes I feel like they have really brought it for "Some Strange Country". They continue to develop a characteristic sound and their albums have constant rotation in my listening queue. I recommend this album and any of their others to fans of bands such as The Be Good Tanyas, Mumford and Sons, and also to the fans of the more mainstream sounds of Alison Krauss.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Saw this five piece ensemble for the first time last night, Friday, May 21st, 2010, at Carol Noonan's "Stone Mountain Arts Center" in Brownfield Maine (The Water is Wide: Inspired By the Stone Mountain Arts Center). What an enchanting evening! These musicians clearly love playing together - they also clearly love it when they have an audience to share their fun with. They were joined during several pieces by Sarah Jarosz (Song Up in Her Head) who is traveling with them as the front act for many performances. Their music was a delight to hear - a unique artistic beauty embedded in each composition - superb technical mastery from each instrument - and exceptional delivery in the performance. After such a great show I just had to see if they could somehow capture the magic of a great performance in a collection of recordings. I've downloaded the MP3 album and am listening as I write. This set of recordings delivers the same excitement and perfection they displayed on stage - their show last night earned them Three Standing Ovations from a packed house - the "Some Strange Country" sessions show the listener why. Get a copy of Some Strange Country - you'll be a fan in very short order.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I like antique furniture, especially when fine old antiques have been given new life by a bit of repair and polish, and placed in a modern setting. A fine old 18th century jam cupboard, for example, cleaned up and displayed with pride in a modern kitchen. I say this as an analogy to the music of Crooked Still, because many of their songs are just that - really old gems that have been cleaned up and brought back to life in the 21st century. Please don't think this means they use electric guitars, synthesizers, or drum kits or any silliness like that... far from it! The instrumentation consists of banjo, cello, upright bass, and fiddle - very traditional, though the signature cello sets them apart from most "traditional" folk bands. What I mean is, the band is young and hip, the interpretations are fresh, the recordings are great, and by breathing new life into these songs, Crooked Still may just preserve them as reference renditions for future generations of fans of traditional folk music.

They're not just dusting off old Dylan tunes either. To find songs like Little Sadie, Hop High, and Aint No Grave, they dug deep into the gold mine of tunes floating around the lexicon of American and European folk music. These are songs you might encounter in one form or another if you play the banjo or the fiddle, but you'd be very unlikely to hear if you're just an average music aficionado.

We all form associations between where we are in life and the music we're listening to at that time (whenever I hear Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, it zaps me right back to my high school graduation!), so when I learned that Crooked Still had a new album out, I figured I'd save it for a special occasion: a family trip we had planned over the summer.
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Format: MP3 Music
Coming just a year after the aptly-named limited release live album Live, Some Strange Country is just what I craved - a combination of the incredible songs from Live with the studio mastering of Crooked Still's last studio album Still Crooked. Lead singer Aoife O'Donovan croons her hauntingly beautiful vocals amidst the inspired playing of Tristan Clarridge (cello), Corey DiMario (upright bass), Gregory Liszt (banjo), and Brittany Haas (violin) and shows that young musicians can, indeed, have old souls.

To current fans: Some Strange Country is another album that will need a permanent residence in your album queue.
To newcomers: Take a listen to a few of the tracks and I'm sure it won't be long before you, too, are a fan.
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