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Country - Released April 20, 2018 | Old Crow Medicine Show - Columbia Nashville

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Old Crow Medicine Show signed to Columbia in 2017 and immediately delivered a raucous full-length tribute to Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde to the label. It was an appropriate way to begin the relationship -- Old Crow had their breakthrough when they completed Dylan's half-written "Wagon Wheel" in 2004, so this felt like a debt being paid -- but it also was a low-key way to move to a major label. In contrast, Volunteer, released nearly a year to the day after 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde, is a splashy beginning to a new phase in the band's career. Teaming with producer Dave Cobb, the hottest producer in Nashville in 2018, Old Crow Medicine Show broaden their sonic palette without abandoning their devotion to old-timey string music. Cobb doesn't push Old Crow in any uncomfortable directions -- the twanging electric guitar that underpins "Dixie Avenue" amounts to nothing much more than a splash of color -- but he is able to harness the energy of their live show, which is no small accomplishment. That much is clear from "Flicker & Shine," a steamroller of a tune that sets the tone for Volunteer: it's vivid and immediate, benefiting from the group's years on the road. Travel is an undercurrent throughout Volunteer -- there are plenty of songs about touring and returning home after weeks away -- which plays into how the album feels like it's in constant motion as it swings from high-octane fiddle tunes to plaintive ballads. Nothing here is particularly outside the wheelhouse of Old Crow Medicine Show, but the songs are finely etched and the performances vivid, elements that separate Volunteer from its predecessors. Here, Old Crow Medicine Show feel focused and fully realized, as if they're just hitting their stride after two decades in the business. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released April 28, 2017 | Old Crow Medicine Show - Columbia Nashville

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Old Crow Medicine Show performed a pair of Blonde on Blonde concerts at the Country Music Hall of Fame's theater in May of 2016, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan's double album. Nearly a year later, 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde arrived as their first release on Columbia Records. Containing cherry-picked highlights from the two concerts, 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde finds the Americana group running through the entirety of Dylan's masterwork, and what makes the performance work is that they play with gusto and verve, not respectful reverence. Certainly, the group knows the album backwards and forwards, but that familiarity also means that they're free to turn some songs inside out. "One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)" is performed as a ballad, "Obviously 5 Believers" turns the blues song into bluegrass and they treat "Pledging My Time" in similar fashion, plus they give "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" a strong backbeat. Even when sticking largely to the original arrangements, the group performs with a giddiness that gives the music a fresh kick, and that energy is what makes this record something a little bit more than a run-of-the-mill tribute. Old Crow Medicine Show perform Dylan's songs as if they belonged to the band and, in a sense, that might be true: any album that survives 50 years belongs to the world at large, and what's fun about 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde is hearing how Old Crow Medicine Show hear an album you know by heart. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Folk/Americana - Released March 28, 2017 | Nettwerk Records

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Country - Released March 28, 2017 | Nettwerk Records

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Folk/Americana - Released March 28, 2017 | Nettwerk Records

Country - Released June 25, 2013 | ATO Records

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Though Old Crow Medicine Show are seemingly ever present on the recording scene, they have released only four studio albums in their eight-year career, in addition to a couple of live offerings. They have often filled the gap with singles and EPs, and this entry is no exception. Carry Me Back to Virginia (not to be confused with the album of the same name) contains three tracks. There is the stomping title track arranged as a sprinting bluegrass-cum-fiddle tune. It's a dance number that almost no group of floor denizens could keep up with, and has more in common with the attack of the Pogues than it does Bill Monroe. Second up is an alternate version of "Ain't It Enough" from the same album. It's five seconds longer than the original, and driven more by its pronounced bassline than by guitars and banjos, though they still figure prominently. It's louder, less sweet, and more effective than the album cut. The last track amounts to an addition to the band's catalog, even if it is a cover: "Dixieland Delight" first appeared on the excellent High Cotton: A Tribute to Alabama, released earlier in 2013 on the independent Lightning Rod Records. This is as close as Old Crow Medicine Show gets to straight country, led by banjo, strummed acoustic guitars, and a whining dobro. While the vocal harmonies aren't as rich as Alabama's, they don't need to be; this is far less polished, more direct than the original (which doesn't mean the same thing as being superior to it), and is as heartfelt an homage to a great song as one is likely to hear. It does contain a nice twist in its speedy rush to the close, turning a back porch country love song into a barnstormer. This EP is obviously aimed at the group's hardcore following, and getting the cover track to those who might not otherwise make that purchase. ~ Thom Jurek
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Folk/Americana - Released September 23, 2008 | Nettwerk Records

Calling Old Crow Medicine Show a bluegrass band is really a bit of a stretch, since they actually sound more like a prewar jug and string band filtered through Uncle Tupelo than they do, say, Bill Monroe, and the group's attitude and themes are all rock & roll, which gives the band, when it's at its best, a wonderfully fresh vitality with a little bit of wounded cowboy angel pathos tossed in for good measure. Old Crow Medicine Show's previous two albums for Nettwerk Records, 2004's Old Crow Medicine Show and 2006's Big Iron World, were both produced by Gillian Welch's creative partner, David Rawlings, who had an instinctive feel for the group's ragged glory take on what a string band whose members listen to Nirvana could sound like in the 21st century. For Old Crow Medicine Show's third Nettwerk album, Tennessee Pusher, they've elected to go with producer Don Was, who, although he follows the same basic sound template as Rawlings, manages to take the edgy energy of the band down a slight notch, which isn't a good thing at all. Not that Tennessee Pusher is a huge fall off from Big Iron World, it's just not a great leap forward and upward, although there are plenty of striking tracks, including the perfectly voiced "Methamphetamine" (co-written by Rawlings and the band's lead singer, Ketcham Secor); the haunting and eerie "Motel in Memphis"; and the bright, radio-ready first single, "Caroline." The one cover here, an effective version of Blind Alfred Reed's "Lift Him Up," is also well worth noting. The drop in energy from Big Iron World is so slight that most fans of the group either won't care or won't notice, but one can't help but wonder what this set of songs (and there are some really good ones here) would have sounded like with Rawlings producing. Old Crow Medicine Show have the musicianship, songwriting chops, and creative vision and attitude to be something really special, and truthfully, they already are, as long as they don't paint themselves into a corner. ~ Steve Leggett
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Country - Released April 28, 2017 | Old Crow Medicine Show - Columbia Nashville

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Folk/Americana - Released March 28, 2017 | Nettwerk Records

Old Crow Medicine Show is an all-acoustic quintet from four states whose members met in New York City and moved to Nashville. Their storied beginnings include a North American cross-continent ramble while they learned their instruments and how to play together, eventually ending up playing on the street in front of the Grand Ole Opry before being asked to the stage some weeks later. Their self-titled debut album is equal parts Woody Guthrie's dust bowl weariness and Cisco Houston's rambling code of the road, Phil Ochs' view of a passing America, the Kingston Trio's wide-eyed enthusiastic earnestness, the New Christy Minstrels' sense of community, Doc and Merle Watson's home-grown blues as informed by Bill Monroe, Beat Generation lamentations, forlorn 1960s idealism, and the musical mindset that fueled America's original folk revival from the 1950s as it moved toward rockabilly. In other words, this record is informed by ghosts but executed in flesh, blood, sweat, and laughter. Whether the tunes are covers from antiquity ("CC Rider," "Poor Man," "Tell It to Me") or originals by fiddler and vocalist Ketch Secor and his songwriting and singing partner, Willie Watson ("Trials & Troubles," "Hard to Tell," "We're in This Together"), the feel is the same: passion, humor, and a relentless drive to get to the heart of a tune and put it across. There is so much enthusiasm, willingness and fire here, that it would be hard to do anything but want to sing along. Thoroughly enjoyable, wonderfully raw and sinewy, Old Crow Medicine Show may be evoking the sounds of the old string bands, but they do it with a crackling rock & roll energy. ~ Thom Jurek
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Country - Released February 17, 2015 | ATO Records (AT0)

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Country - Released January 1, 2012 | ATO RECORDS

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Folk/Americana - Released March 28, 2017 | Nettwerk Records

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Country - Released July 1, 2014 | ATO Records (AT0)

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Folk/Americana - Released September 28, 2010 | Nettwerk Records