As trends come and go, Old Crow Medicine Show are a band that have remarkably stuck to their roots. Before the recent resurgence of folk-rock and bands wielding a banjo instead of a synthesizer, (largely down to the help of acts such as Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers) Old Crow Medicine Show have been trawling away all along, sticking to a ‘tradition comes first’ mindset, helping them lead the way in raw, gritty roots music. It is this sense of tradition that resonates on brand new album Remedy.
It has been two years since the release of previous studio album Carry On and a whole ten years since the release of the Dylan co-penned platinum hit Wagon Wheel. Remedy includes another Dylan collaboration in the way of Sweet Amarillo. In addition to this Tennessee Bound extends a song from Lily Mae Ledford, the Kentucky banjo player and Sweet Home recasts a melody originally recorded by the Skillet Lickers.
Remedy is a continuation of Old Crow Medicine Show’s unique blend of loud, fiery, in your face up-tempo numbers. (Exactly what their live shows are renowned for). Throughout, it features catchy melodies, gritty production full of energy, and a bare bones approach to songwriting. This is not to say, however, this spirit-infused way of writing is there to make up for some sort of lack of musicianship, quite the contrary. For Old Crow are virtuoso musicians individually, and together in a room, they play off one and other so well it beings a wide grin to your your face.
In opener Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer, one of the not-so punkish numbers on the album, we can really hear the guys having fun. It’s easy to picture the seven of them jamming away in a small room somewhere on the outskirts of Nashville. Wagon Wheel, composed from an old Dylan demo is the perfect example of alt. country. It presents a great old-time groove; it’s full of tuneful of melodies, but doesn’t lack any form of attitude. It’s still as loud and upfront as you want it to be. Our expectations of banjo rolls and frantic fiddle playing are met for the most part of the album. Songs such as Mean Enough World, Brave Boy and Shit Creek keep those tempos high and energy levels soaring. It’s the classic Old Crow punk sound, but sometimes a little hard to keep up with. The vocal harmonies are endless. Doc’s Day and Sweet Home being particular highlights. Its fun and works marvellously well with the fiddle work. Between the raucousness, songs such as Dearly Departed Friend and album closer The Warden provide the change of dynamics much needed on Remedy. With all the ferocity seen on much of Remedy, these are slower, sparser and ever so slightly more refined, and it is these tracks where the band really comes together.
Remedy is a diverse and entertaining listen. Old Crow Medicine Show have once again stuck to their gut, proving tradition holds the key in a time where fashion falls in and out in the blink of an eye. They know their sound and their audience, and cater for the two. If you aren’t at home with the whole rootsy vibe, this one wont be for you, obviously, but if you are a fan of raw, gutsy, worked-from-the-ground-up type of music, give Remedy a spin and you will no doubt reap the rewards.