Old Crow Medicine Show- Tennessee Pusher   1 comment


Old Crow Medicine Show

Tennessee Pusher

Nettwerk

 

This Old Crow album confused me; there are three or four really sharp tunes on the album, but the largest portion of the disc left me cold. It was a bit disappointing, but there is still something to recommend the album.

 

 

In which the successful neo-traditionalist string band, continuing to instill a bit of rollicking bluegrass into their repertoire, find themselves mixing in drums that are as obvious as they are distracting; such an ill-advised move is superfluous, as their original sound- so identifiable and energetic- is weakened by a notion that appears calculated.

 

But, at least such an attempt- although flawed- displays change. When one listened to their first Nettwerk album more than four years ago, or even to the digital reissue of their debut album Eutaw this year, one heard a young group that was plainly chomping to bring old sounds to modern ears. Now, it all seems a little strained, with songs about moonshining, drug running and methamphetamine incongruent to the societal negativity they impart in the real world.

 

Yes, similar themes were explored on previous albums, but with this latest collection, the band seems to have jumped the shark having gone to the same inspiration too frequently. One wonders, Where’s the growth?

 

Some evidence of continued promise is provided mid-set. Motel in Memphis hints that the group may be able to do more than riff-on about illegalities. The album’s strongest cut, the tune is as surprising amidst the generic mediocrity as it is melodically rich.

 

The following cut, Evening Sun, combines lyrical songwriting reminiscent of Paul Burch with restrained instrumentation; the music supports rather than overwhelms the pictures being crafted. Crazy Eyes has a nifty, early 70’s country-rock groove, and the double entendre-laced Mary’s Kitchen contains lyrical sharpness.

 

Regrettably, the majority of the songs are less satisfying that what Mary has on offer. The predictable subject matter can only be blamed on the band, but the lackluster production- and Jim Keltner’s presence- firmly sits at the feet of producer Don Was.

 

The album has a handful of engaging songs but is unimpressive taken as a whole; unfortunate, and perhaps my expectations were unreasonable. Conceivably I’ve allowed pedestrian lyrics and off-putting drumming to colour my impression of the album.

 

Tennessee Pusher sounds contrived and forced, something a fan of string-band music cannot abide; it has its moments, but its very unevenness should caution listeners.

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One response to “Old Crow Medicine Show- Tennessee Pusher

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  1. I am a longtime Old Crow fan and I had a similar reaction to this album as well. ‘Methamphetamine’ was the first track I heard (in concert, no less) and I wasn’t impressed at all, along with a few others such as ‘Highway Halo’ and ‘Crazy Eyes’. I do, however, feel that the album wasn’t completely barren: ‘Alabama High-Test’, ‘The Greatest Hustler Of All’ and ‘Marys Kitchen’ are good examples of well this band does fast AND slow. I still think Eutaw was their best so far, hope to see them get there again in their musical career.

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