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Nickel Creek - Why Should The Fire Die
CD Review by Jim Moulton

These three young folk from North Carolina really shake things up on their third CD produced by Eric Valentine and Tony Berg. It is an eclectic mix of fourteen tracks recorded in a super modern setting with tons of compression and special effects on some tracks and the sweet bluegrass tone on others. The group believes there are plenty of folks around to keep traditional bluegrass alive and to give them the freedom to explore the realms of folk and rock, heavily emphasized by the use of electric bassist Mark Schatz on most tracks. Yet, there are still plenty of sweet acoustic, bluegrass tracks to keep most traditionalists happy though they may have to skip a couple of tracks. Talent is not something Chris Thile, Sara and Sean Watkins are short on. 

How would I describe this disc after a week of listening to it? Very creative, sometimes brilliant and sometimes over the edge. They already would be considered newgrass, I give them a new category here, alt/bluegrass, because a lot of the songs have a real edge to them. If you are looking for Ricky Skaggs, Rhonda Vincent or Alison Krauss, wrong stop, this is more akin to listening to 2 or 3 different groups on the same disc.

Well,let's go...

"Stumptown" is a delightful bluegrass instrumental that is sweet with great stuff, but woefully short, less than two minutes.

"Anthony" is a ballad sang by Sara thru a weird vocal processor. It has a nice instrumental hook. Reminds one of Grey De Lisle.

"First and Last Waltz" is a slow short instrumental full of very odd effects.

Let's focus on what I really like, the title track "Why Should The fire Die?" is a beautiful acoustic bluegrassy ballad with sweet harmonies and some great fiddle and mandolin and acoustic guitar (no bass). I would say it is the best song on the album.

Another Song that really moves me is Sara's reading of Dylan's "Tomorrow is A Long Time", Sara has such a sweet voice with great harmony. Incredible acoustic guitar pickin' and mandolin by Chris. Sara takes a harmony fiddle break with Chris on Mandolin. Just a beautiful song.

The CD starts out stompin' and rockin' with "When In Rome". This song has some heavy electric bass thumpin' and a very edgy feel. There is a Celtic, haunting feel to this song.

"Somebody More Like You" is a song with a nice melody, more odd vocal processors and special effects. Mark thumpin' out on the electric bass. Great Fiddle and mandolin on opposite stereo field. This song is very compressed, but no distortion, just not a natural feel, more of a pop rock bent.

"Helena" (Thile) is an acoustic rocker with drums added too, besides the electric bass. Real alt/rock sound with a strong edge to it, many special effects. This song is really over the edge. Ends on an eerie discord note.

So, what do I say, young folk feel the need to experiment with their sound, are you ready to jump on the train. 

Visit them @ www.sugarhillrecords.com or www.nickelcreek.com.

Buy CD right here!

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