The Chieftains

Further Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions

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In 2002, the legendary and insanely prolific Irish ensemble the Chieftains released Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions. Utilizing American icons like Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury, and Lyle Lovett alongside the blossoming Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, their interpretations of traditional Irish and Appalachian staples yielded a surprisingly lucid bounty. Not surprisingly, the sessions also yielded another record. Further Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions follows the same thread on the neo-traditional loom, pitting the Celtic heroes against such heavyweights as Doc Watson, John Prine, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, while incorporating younger artists like Nickel Creek. The Chieftains, possibly the tightest veteran band still performing, have made a career out of effortless creativity and sheer enthusiasm, especially for projects like this one. On the gorgeous "Chief O'Neil's Hornpipe," Paddy Maloney's bittersweet piping effortlessly segues into Chet Atkins' understated picking. It's like listening to a couple of old friends sharing a beer on a Sunday evening. Emmylou Harris croons "Lambs in the Greenfield" that'll leave a lump in your throat, and Tim O'Brien tears through a version of "Shady Grove," fueled by the ancestral flames of its birth. Only the forced soul of Allison Moorer's "Hick's Farewell" and Don Williams' generic rendering of the classic ballad "Wild Mountain Thyme" keep Further Down the Old Plank Road from being a major achievement.

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