Published Mar 04, 2015This self-titled third release from Old Crow Medicine Show's chief multi-instrumentalist marks a bit of a departure. Gill Landry's previous efforts (especially the dirty rain shower that was 2007's The Ballad of Lawless Soirez) tended toward moody, noir-ish soundscapes a la Joe Henry or early Calexico. But here, while still relaxed and mellow, the emphasis is less upon imagined spaces and more upon immediate emotion. (The words "love" or "heart" appear in almost half of the song titles, to take a superficial, but fairly instructive, example.)
As with Landry's contemporaries like Doug Paisley (with whom he shares more than a passing similarity), there is a quiet intensity to these homespun performances that pulls you closer, that implicates you in the emotional turmoil below the surface. At its best moments ("Long Road," "Funeral in my Heart," "Fennario") Landry comes into his own, and the record feels deep, substantial.
Too bad he lets himself slip from time to time into a mimicry that feels beneath him. On "Take This Body" (a duet with tour mate Laura Marling), you'd swear you were listening to Darius Rucker; and on the lead single "Just Like You," everyone involved pulls their best Harvest Moon-era Neil Young, a move that distracts mightily from the actual quality of the song. Strange that such a (super-talented) veteran, on such a satisfying album, would make such rookie mistakes. (ATO)