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Big Iron World ()

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Similar to their first album, Big Iron World sees Old Crow Medicine Show draw upon the spirit of old-timey American string band music, adding a surprisingly refreshing and youthful flair that breathes new life into what's traditional as well as harnessing a sound of their own. The group once again teamed up with David Rawlings who produced and performed on the album, co-writing five of its 12 songs. Rawlings musical other half, Gillian Welch also appears here, trading in her guitar and signature vocals for a pair of drum sticks. The first single from Big Iron Worldis an upright bass and harmonica-heavy, moaning ballad called "Down Home Girl" -- written by Arthur Butler and Jerry Leiber (the latter being responsible for such hits as "Yakety Yak," "Hound Dog," and "Jailhouse Rock"). Of course, Old Crow Medicine Show makes the tune their own, with slide guitar and Willie Watson's nasally mountain-style vocals, accentuated perfectly by the close harmony range of his bandmates. Big Iron World is a flourishing a mixture of backwoods crooners, bluegrass-tinged rockers, and crooning backwoods bluegrass-tinged rockers. There's the Highway 61 Revisited-era Dylanesque "Bobcat Tracks" and the jumping "James River Blues" both with irresistible fiddle breakdowns and perfectly executed vocal harmonies. Just as the songs "CC Rider" and "Poor Man" from Old Crow Medicine Show's debut showcased their unique vocal abilities, here they exhibit an ability to kidnap their listeners from the hustle and bustle of modern life and take them back to the good old days that neither they, nor the band, were born early enough to know. Big Iron World has its fair share of songs that offer bleak and bittersweet atmospheres. The ominous yet weary "Don't Ride That Horse," and the spiritually reverent "God's Got It," could carry themselves even if they were sung a cappella. The album's overall rainy autumn day feel isn't without its upbeat moments and humor, though. "Cocaine Habit," much like the debut album's "Tell It to Me," is a catchy harmonica-driven ode to cocaine abuse. It's followed by the rollicking "Minglewood Blues" which shows the genius achieved from melding bluegrass and blues -- not to mention the genius of Watson's distinctive howl that sets it apart. What it proves is that Big Iron World is no less worthy of praise than their debut,and furthers the band's position as one of the better neo-traditionalist string bands of the early years of the 2000s. ~ Megan Frye, Rovi Hide synopsis

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