Old Crow Medicine Show “Jubilee”

ATO Records, 2023

Stalwarts of the string band revival deliver their eighth studio album that celebrates their 25th year anniversary.

artwork for Old Crow Medicine Show's album "Jubilee"Seen very much as a companion piece to last year’s critically acclaimed release ‘Paint This Town’ the Old Crow Medicine Show’s new offering ‘Jubilee’ marks the 25th year anniversary of the band’s formation. Since those early days the band has gone through numerous changes but founding member Ketch Secor is still there driving this particular wagon alongside long-term cohorts Morgan Jahnig and Cory Younts, whilst this current lineup is completed by Jerry Pentecost, Mike Harris and Mason Via. As with its predecessor ‘Jubilee’ was recorded at the band’s own Hartlands Studios with co-producer Matt Ross-Spang whose previous work includes the Drive By Truckers and St Paul & the Broken Bones, and strays little from the band’s trademark sound of infusing old Appalachian Bluegrass with a strong dose of high energy and Punk Rock swagger.

The album opens with what could be considered the title track ‘Ballad Of Jubilee Jones’ that immediately transports the listener to those Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia as fiddle, banjo and harmonica all combine with some fine harmony vocals to create a celebratory mood that emanates throughout the albums’s twelve tracks. The band are clearly on top form and in good spirits as the album is awash with fiery fiddle playing as on ‘Keel Over And Die’, sublime Banjo picking on ‘Allegheny Lullaby’ and thumping piano-driven rock ‘n’ roll as on ‘I Want It Now’, which demands you get your dancing shoes on. Elsewhere there’s time to catch your breath with the atmospheric and reflective feel of ‘Daughter Of The Highlands’ while the beautiful ‘Miles Away’ finds Willie Watson reuniting with his former bandmates with exquisite results. Watson is not the only special guest appearing on the album as Sierra Ferrell joins the band for a rousing ‘Bella Meade Cockfight’ whilst the one and only Mavis Staples takes centre stage on the final track, the gospel-driven ‘One Drop’, which comes complete with a cappella vocals, hand claps and some stunning harmonica playing from Secor.

‘Jubilee’ is indeed a celebration. A celebration of 25 years as a band, but also a celebration of everything that defines what the Old Crow Medicine Show are about. High-quality musicianship constantly delivering their songs with vibrancy and passion, and though their sound and themes rarely drift from the familiar, this album once again rubber-stamps their position at the top of their particular field of high energy Bluegrass revival music. This album may not convert the disbelievers but fans will be more than happy to join in the celebration.

8/10
8/10

About Graeme Tait 126 Articles
Hi. I'm Graeme, a child of the sixties, eldest of three, born into a Forces family. Keen guitar player since my teens, (amateur level only), I have a wide, eclectic taste in music and an album collection that exceeds 5.000. Currently reside in the beautiful city of Lincoln.
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Alan Peatfield

As usual, an excellent review Graeme. Your trademark strength of attention to background detail and “sense of place” for each album is noteworthy. OCMS are always a delight to hear and even though they don’t hold a place at the top table for me, they always deserve to be in the building. Thanks.