Album Review: Old Crow Medicine Show – Volunteer

Old Crow Medicine Show are one of those great rags to riches stories that you come across every now and again. Having formed back in 1998 in New York state the band opted to travel the lands of America and Canada busking all the way to pay their way. Their enthusiasm and talents drew them fans along the way until one day whilst playing outside a pharmacy they were seen by Doc Watson who invited them to play at his festival and thus their legacy began.

Since those fateful days playing street corners for spare change the band have travelled the world and released a host of albums, actually managing to release two separate albums in 2017 alone. 2018 however sees the release of the release of their latest original album Volunteer and it is a rich, vibrant and mirthful collection of foot-stomping country tunes that whisks you away in a flurry of song. Volunteer opens with Flicker & Shine, a perfect introduction as it seems to breathe with the gentle crackle of an old juke box as well has emphasizing the raw and unbridled energy that the group have become so famous for. Tearing into your life like a Tasmanian Devil on steroids, their music hits you like a tidal wave, ferrying you away to a barn somewhere in the South of America; you can almost smell the straw on the floor as you hurl yourself and your partner around to their raucous, lightning strike tunes.

Get “Flicker & Shine” on Old Crow Medicine Show’s new album, Volunteer, available now:

Their energy stems from their deft skills with their chaotic collection of guitars, fiddles, banjos, bass, harmonicas, mandolins and so much more – the perfect sound of Dixie. With four of the six members of the band bringing their vocals together to provide their stunning collection of harmonies, their resonant and familial vocals are exemplary. With such a dextrous and textured layer of sound and voices it feels difficult to find the belief that their sound could ever be contained. Their boundless enthusiasm is evident in every song with instrumental tracks such as Elzicks Farewell taking form as such a rip-roaring, breakneck tune that you’ll want to find a dance partner fast. The playful and restless music Old Crow Medicine Band produce is so rife with a contagious energy that it feels as though they simply won’t be happy until you’ve danced yourself to exhaustion.

Old Crow Medicine Show have been together for close for twenty years and with this experience they meld together and harmonise in a smooth and effortless manner. Rich slide guitars seem to melt naturally into elaborate banjo tunes and the result is an album that is natural and enriching. The charismatic performances they bring to life in Volunteer are the kick you need in life to make each day feel that much better. Spirited and soulful, theirs is the music we need in our lives.

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Review by Joe Knipe

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