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.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek