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)