Crooked Still: Still Crooked

Crooked Still’s third album consists of mostly traditional tunes, with a few originals that follow the sound. Still Crooked takes the band’s signature ethereal bluegrass vibe – as heard on their 2006 release Shaken By A Low Sound (which I thoroughly enjoyed, but seemed to have neglected reviewing) – and enriches it with a darker folk style, all still very much centered on singer Aoife O’Donovan’s lovely voice.

over yonder in the graveyard
where the wild wildflowers grow
oh there they laid my own true lover
she’s gone from me forevermore

The Appalachian folk gentility of the opener “Undone In Sorrow” blooms into a haunting dirge of beautiful string work. The fiendish fiddle of “The Absentee” breaks the quiet bereavement before the four hundred year old “Captain, Captain” glides elegantly across a widow’s walk.

Aoife’s angelic croon only intensifies the eeriness of the murder ballad “Low Down and Dirty” and moody “Pharoah”. Other songs may not produce as many chills on the skin as the aforementioned tracks, but the entire album is gorgeous and occasionally quite spooky.

Captain, Captain, tell me true
does my sweet Willy sail with you?
no my dear, he is not here
for he is drowned in this ocean dear

Crooked Still – Undone in Sorrow (mp3 expired)
Crooked Still – Wading Deep Waters (mp3 expired)

Crooked Still Official Site

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Carrie Rodriguez: She Ain’t Me

She Ain’t Me will be released on August 5th. The organic folk style of this sophomore release from singer-songwriter, classically trained violinist, and Chip Taylor collaborator Carrie Rodriguez is a slight departure from the twangier country sound of her debut Seven Angels on a Bicycle. Gary Louris of The Jayhawks co-wrote several songs on the album, which features guest vocals by Lucinda Williams and Aoife O’Donovan of Crooked Still.

don’t a murder of crows on a maple roost hungry at night?
don’t loose flocks soar over the rooftops in sorrowful flight?
don’t the winter crows gather together by the light of the moon?
don’t a heart beat heavy alone in a dark and empty room?

“Infinite Night” is a good start, a moody Western strummer that brings out an interestingly fierce tone in Carrie’s voice that was absent from her previous release. Gary Louris sings harmony on the track as well as on “El Salvador”, while Lucinda Williams provides backing vocals on “Mask of Moses”.

The spunky spitfire image portrayed in the album’s cover art is deceptive. “She Ain’t Me” could use a dose of the opener’s vocal gumption, but the woman scorned title track instead leans into a catchier pop rhythm. And Rodriguez reveals the more vulnerable side of her voice in the desperate verses of “Rag Doll”.

Carrie’s fiddle haunts the eerily rustic stand out track “Absence”, on which Crooked Still’s Aoife O’Donovan lends her voice. Other tracks melt into each other indistinctly until the attention is subtly absorbed once again by the austere arrangement and seductive lyrics of “Let Me In”.

Carrie till be touring with Alejandro Escovedo this autumn.

Carrie Rodriguez Official Site
Carrie Rodriguez MySpace

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