Old Crow Medicine Show Celebrate ‘Remedy’ Release in Nashville
Still at the early stages of the 21st century, we think it’s safe to say there is a folk revival of sorts affecting the music world. This is hardly breaking news of course, but the consistent success and staying relevance of acts like the Avett Brothers or Mumford and Sons proves that the revival is more than just a passing fad. At the helm of the revival for the last decade and a half, Old Crow Medicine Show have been doing everything they can to make sure they have a lasting impact with their unique brand of folk music. With the release of their seventh studio album today (July 1), that impact has fortunately gotten a little deeper.
The CD and digital versions of ‘Remedy’ are readily available and the double-LP edition will hit store shelves on July 15. Not ones to waste any time, the band kicked things off with a release party in their adopted hometown of Nashville at the legendary independent record store Grimey’s. Playing to a packed store, Old Crow released ‘Remedy’ at the stroke of midnight in style with some of their biggest Nashvillian fans.
For any band who has been around since 1998, it’s hard to keep pleasing your audience while trying to attract new fans. It might be even harder for a folk band to do that, what with folk being a seemingly niche genre that lacks mass appeal. Somehow though, Old Crow never let that type of attitude implicate their creative process, and that maturation and experience is quite evident on ‘Remedy.’ Opening with 'Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer,’ the crew plays through a tune with an old-timey feel that pays homage to an historical Tennessee prison (Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary opened its doors in 1896). While it may not be the most raucous song on the album, with lyrics like "I’ve got a little time off for good behavior so let’s kick it in the Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer," it’s easily one of the most memorable.
Not all the tracks are as nonchalant as the opener though. ‘8 Dogs 8 Banjos’ and ‘Brave Boys’ are instant classics in Old Crow’s vast catalog, infused with the punk bluegrass fans have come to love and expect. There are some slow jams as well, most notably the closing track, ‘The Warden.’ It’s likely more than just a coincidence that ‘Remedy’ opens and closes with prison-related songs, but there is something immediately jarring about ‘The Warden.’ Maybe it’s the hauntingly beautiful harmonies or the eerie chorus: "How does the warden sleep at night, after the long day is through? / Does he toss and turn, does his conscience burn? / Is he a prisoner too?”
As good as the entire album is, the highlight is a sort of collaboration between Old Crow and Bob Dylan. You might recognize this pairing as they joined forces 10 years ago on the band’s 2004 album ‘O.C.M.S.’ Back then, the band took the shell of a Dylan song they came across and completed it (with his blessing of course) in the form of the wildly successful ‘Wagon Wheel.' Now in 2014, Dylan actually sent lyrics to Old Crow with directions on how he wanted the song completed. Those lyrics and instructions are the foundation of track number three, ‘Sweet Amarillo.’
Whether you're a long-time Old Crow Medicine Show fan or just getting into this whole folk revival thing, one thing is for certain: 'Remedy' is a dynamic album that continues to showcase the many talents of the band, from their storytelling skills to their breakneck bluegrass. And even 16 years into their career, the band stays true to its roots by supporting local independent record stores. It doesn't get much better than that.