now playing: Crooked Still: Still Crooked
“She went into the graveyard with
trouble on her mind -- she was
looking for the man who’d made her crazy”
You know you’re in for a story when those are the opening lines. There are, in fact, a lot of graveyards, along with death, mortality, and retribution along with longing, regret, love’s twists and turns, a bit of sass, a southern spiritual and a consideration of Agamennon in the songs Crooked Still has chosen for their third album. Grounded in bluegrass, a groove based band without a drummer, the Boston based ensemble inhabits the music of American tradition at the same time they take it to unexpected places. Five years into their band history and with two new players in the line up, they just keep getting better.
Those lines above were written by lead singer Aoife O’Donovan, who next to Alison Krauss has perhaps the most haunting voice going in roots music today. She’s a founding member of Crooked Still, along with banjo player Greg Liszt and Corey DiMario, who plays double bass. Joining the band this time out are Brittany Haas on fiddle and Tristan Clarridge on cello and second fiddle. Adventurous cellist Rushad Eggleston has moved on, but the energy and melodic talents of Clarridge and Haas bring a different sort of depth and clarity to the band’s sound. This album was recorded soon after the pair joined the band, abd it was done with all the members together in one room. Eric Merrill’s spare acoustic production gets at the energy of the collaboration while making sure that it enhances but does not overwhelm the individual work of the players.
There are thirteen songs on the recording, opening with Ola Belle Reed’s Undone in Sorrow and closing with John Hurt’s Baby What’s Wrong with You? From an Appalachian ballad to a snappy bit of bluesy sass, these five musicians can handle it all and bring their own fresh ideas to the music. In a a year of outstanding albums, including new releases from Kathy Mattea, Tim O’Brien, and Caroline Herring, Crooked Still’s latest has to rank near the top of the list. If you know their music, you'll want to hear the new line up in action, and if you’ve yet to hear them, this is an excellent place to make their acquaintance.
The album will be released on 24th June, and the band will be touring behind it through the summer and early fall. At left, a show from a previous year finds Crooked Still at Roisin Dubh in Galway City.