Crooked Still – Some Strange Country

January 01, 1970

(Signature Sounds)


Perhaps it’s an apt indication of just how potent roots
music has become when an unassuming outfit like Crooked Still not only survives
but thrives, picking up new devotees with each successive outing. That’s
despite the fact that various personnel shifts once threatened to derail the
band’s progress entirely. Nevertheless, four albums on, Crooked Still continue
to pursue their sepia-tinted style, a formula fueled by acoustic
instrumentation (cello, fiddle, banjo, stand-up bass and mandolin) and the sort
of backwoods balladry that would find a natural setting in the hills and
hollows of Appalachia. With a fair helping of bluegrass, and more than a hint
of folk finesse, they mine traditional trappings as they pursue their
ramshackle approach. 


The end result is a sound that resembles chamber music for
the back porch set, one that eschews any hint of modern accoutrements.  Singer Aoife O’Donovan affirms the down-home
charm, her soothing, seductive vocals adding emphasis to the group’s rambling
narratives. She’s especially effective on the band’s unlikely cover of the
Stones’ otherwise obscure “You Got the Silver,” a Keith Richards number that
becomes all the more affecting with this rustic treatment. Likewise, their take
on “Henry Lee,” a reimagining of an English traditional tune called Matty
Groves,” darkens their palette and increases their credence in one fell swoop.
No wonder then that Some Strange Country becomes a truly compelling destination.


“You Got the Silver,” “Henry Lee,” “Sometimes in This


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