Old Crow Medicine Show - Big Iron World CD

Traveling through this big iron world can ask a lot of you. The soot and grit, the grime and dust of decay, the dark wilderness of the deep hollers, the basements of factories, the long lightless hallways and corridors and tunnels, the highways, the pumping oil wells and spinning turbines, the sound of hammers striking steel, all of it blasting at once, all of it ready to beat you down and into shape. It takes a certain alchemy, like ore into gold, water into wine, to turn the incessant noise into music that rises above, throwing light on it all - tunes like torches to carry into the darkness.

Big Iron World, produced by David Rawlings, is a collection of songs by Old Crow Medicine Show, who once again dive headlong into the musical past and return with a few time-tested themes for the present. These themes spring from the hardest hitting notes of America's music vernacular, tapped from sources deep in the ground but refined and redefined by fresh new voices. Work Songs, Play Songs, Blues Songs, Drug Songs, Protest Songs, Killin' Songs, Love Songs, and more than a few songs about Spiritual Renewal: tunes like tungsten to scorch the night.

Willie Watson's voice sears across the album like a revelation. From the spooky, slow drag of "Don't Ride That Horse" to the lashing urgency of "God's Got It" Watson moans and coos, delivering with the kind of intensity that makes you wonder how a boy brought up in the bleak conformity of the big iron world could learn to sing with the voice of an American Original. When he sings, "Every time you move like that, girl, I got to go to Sunday Mass" one can feel it drip with sinful pleasure, at once reverential and seductive.

Old Crow channels the voices of the past, bring them fiercely into the present. In "James River Blues," the boatman is rendered obsolete by the railroads. Critter Fuqua laments, "they don't need us anymore, hauling freight from shore to shore, that Big Iron hauls much more than we ever could before." In the beguiling "Bobcat Tracks," the same voice implores, "Tell me, Mr. Bobcat, where is it that you go?" Throughout, the listener has the sense that these are the songs of men struggling to get their due, songs forged by the flames of conviction, sung not because they should be but because they must be.

"I can hear the flowers growing in the rubble of the towers," sings Ketch Secor, who rounds out the voices on Big Iron World. In "I Hear Them All," he evokes Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom," incanting the voices of a troubled world with quavering innocence. But this innocence is laced with grit and charged with working class sneer. "Oh you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union." More like sticking it to the union.

All this pulses with the stabbing beat that only OCMS can deliver. The firebrand bass slap of Morgan Jahnig, the "put a little mustard on it" rake of Kevin Hayes' guitjo, the drilling banjo fever of Critter Fuqua, the hell-bent fiddling of Ketch Secor, the red hot attack of Willie Watson guitar, the gunfire crack of Gillian Welch's drums, all expertly harnessed and finely tuned by the precise ear of producer David Rawlings. Crank it up, dial it in, pour it on!

1- Down Home Girl mp3
2- Cocaine Habit mp3
3- Minglewood Blues mp3
4- My Good Gal mp3
5- James River Blues mp3
6- New Virginia Creeper mp3
7- Union Maid mp3
8- Let It Alone mp3
9- God's Got It mp3
10- I Hear Them All mp3
11- Don't Ride That Horse mp3
12- Bobcat Tracks mp3

Released August 29, 2006