Sample “We Don’t Grow Tobacco” on You Tube from CARRY ME BACK by Old Crow Medicine Show
Dear Music Appreciators,
I know of a pretty famous and oft-awarded pop bluegrass band that uses multiple lead singers, and honestly I get nervous whenever they switch away from their star vocalist because I’m afraid I’m not going to like those songs as much. Not so with Old Crow Medicine Show. For one thing, this isn’t pop bluegrass is it – this sounds like some kind of cocaine fueled punk rock hillbilly house party.
OCMS seem to be a band in the best sense of the word. Not only are the members playing and harmonizing like a tightly-knit family, but they also have three outstanding lead vocalists – kind of like an all male redneck Fleetwood Mac I guess…but hopefully without the affairs. ..
There is an urgency, confidence, and authenticity to this music that is contagious. Notice the double-time tempo right out of the gate on album opener (and title song) “Carry Me Back.” On “We Don’t Grow Tobacco” there is something haunting about the singer’s swaggering sadness, and when I heard the lines “I would chop that wicked weed / till our hands and fingers bleed / working like a mule, maybe more” I knew I would be hooked for the rest of the album. Then comes “Levi” – a touching, down-home, sing-along story song about Iraq war casualty Leevi Barnard. Three songs, three different flavors, not a phony second to be found – it’s appropriate that the band name contains the word “show” – because just like an old-timey variety show the band seems to be care that its audience has a good time and there is a little something for everyone here.
And that’s just the first quarter of the album.
This album made me feel like I was wearing a wife-beater with my hair slicked back and a cigarette behind my ear driving a beat up classic car fast down a dirt road in the deep south with the windows down.
Buy this, and get in touch with your inner hillbilly.
P.S. This review also appears on Amazon.com here