Still Crooked

2008 Jun 25

Crooked Still is currently the greatest acoustic band in the United States. They are astounding. Sure, their new ‘cello player isn’t quite as amazing as Rushad Eggleston, their previous one, but they made up for it by adding a violin player who is just insane. Such tone! Makes you want to cry.

Their third album, Still Crooked, just came out. You should purchase and listen to it immediately, as it is a feast for the ears equal to their first two albums. I can’t give a full review now, at 11:30 at night, but here are some samples:

The fourth track, Tell Her to Come Back Home, is a radio single in any just world, but this is progressive bluegrass, so it’ll never happen. It just jumps in your face and makes you want to get up and dance, while remaining slightly sad and mournful in all the mirth, being about a husband whose lost his wife.

Oh Agamemnon (what a title!) is a relatively traditional fiddle tune with a fairly funky rhythm and vocal line, which they milk to great effect. Very nice.

Oh man, Pharaoh is an African spiritual, or at least hails from that tradition, and is mercilessly slow, really grabbing you right in the gut and never letting go. Let my gut go, Pharaoh!

Florance is pretty close to being my favorite, just because it shows off the power of early church hymn structure. Most of these old hymns were originally Celtic ballads before they were brought to the New World and preserved up in the hills of Appalachia. They reemerged in 50s rock music of all things — remember “Where Oh Where Can My Baby Be?”-style teen car accident death ballads? yup! — but this has a bit of that doo-wop vibe while reaching back to something older.

So… Did You Sleep Well edged out to be my current favorite, after two listens. It’s got that classic murder ballad structure, but the thumping banjo in the background and the way the various lines of the chorus hang a bit before continuing (a Crooked Still trademark arrangement trick) is just delicious. Also, check out the slapping rhythm you can get out of upright acoustic basses! So good.

Go get it!

6 Responses to “Still Crooked”

  1. John Harper Says:

    Fantastic. Album purchased.

    Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Brennan Says:

    Sweet! I’m getting it.

    BTW, we were listening to Crooked Still on the way up to Jiffycon last weekend, and Lilith added two of the songs to her playlist where they now rub shoulders with Miley Cyrus.

  3. Jonathan Walton Says:

    That’s pretty cool, Brennan. It’s fun to watch kids’ musical taste develop.

  4. Jonathan Walton Says:

    Man, I just realized that I saw Natalie Haas, the sister of their new fiddle player, Brittany Haas, play ‘cello with celtic fiddle master Alasdair Frasier at the NC Highland Games about… 5 years ago. Very cool. Check out Natalie too, if you have the chance. She’s also amazing. It’s a wonder they didn’t get her to take over for Rushad, but she may have been busy or uninterested.

  5. John Harper Says:

    Man… ‘Pharaoh’ has gotten me. I listen to it over and over. I want to play the game for which it is the theme song.

  6. Jonathan Walton Says:

    Heavy spiritual Moses-centric Steal Away Jordan? With a great soundtrack running in the background, with Sweet Honey in the Rock and the Blind Boys of Alabama and the chain gain songs from the O Brother soundtrack?

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