I'll admit to having had a hard time getting excited about Remedy, Old Crow Medicine Show's ninth record. I saw that it was coming in, thought to myself "Oh, that'll probably be good," and then moved on to being jazzed about other, less predictable stuff. This is a backhanded compliment, I know. But Old Crow Medicine Show is so consistent, so unfailingly and solidly good at what they do, it's tough to get exercised about a new record. So here I am admitting a stupid thing. I wasn't excited about this, and yet here it is, one of the best Americana records of the year.
On their first album following the departure of founding member Willie Watson, the OCMS still seem as energetic as ever. But the songwriting, always a mixed bag with them, is arguably the best they've yet offered. The weary, wry "Dearly Departed Friend" is a genuine country tear-jerker, "Doc's Day" (about Doc Watson, the flatpicking legend who discovered OCMS back when they were buskers) is a glorious, stomping tribute and "Sweet Amarillo," a collaboration with Bob Dylan that was co-written Postal Service-style, is up there with the two or three best songs they've ever recorded. Recalling Doug Sahm and early-'70s cowboy Bob in equal measure, "Amarillo" is an instant classic, soon to be up there with "Wagon Wheel," their previous pseudo-Dylan-collaboration.
But best of all is "Mean Enough World," a feel-good anthem for those among us determined to turn our backs on negativity, endless troublemaking, snark and strife. Now, there's something to get excited about. (Nettwerk)