Here’s something I don’t readily admit: my roots are country. I grew up close enough to Jamboree in the Hills (“The Super Bowl of Country Music”) that highlights aired on our local news. On Remedy, Old Crow Medicine Show’s sound is classic Appalachian country and bluegrass. This is the kind of music my grandfather would enjoy. Fortunately it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
The key to Remedy is a return to country’s simple roots. “8 Dogs 8 Banjos” is an upbeat catalog of the simple needs in life, including “hot coffee” and “sweet tea.” “Brave Boys” is a danceable ditty saluting the sacrifices of coal miners, while “Doc’s Day” tips a hat to the contributions of early country artists.
The track that will probably garner the most attention is “Sweet Amarillo.” Bob Dylan began writing the song decades ago, but failed to finish for his own use. This is the second track that Dylan has donated to the band, with the first, “Wagon Wheel,” proving a significant hit. Dylan’s knack for storytelling is perfect for folk of all varieties, even country, and the track laments a cowgirl who managed to get away from a prideful man. It’s a subdued ode in the midst of many energetic reels, which gives the song the weight of a classic.
Old Crow Medicine Show have been releasing music for sixteen years, and it shows. Each song on Remedy is tight musically and lyrically. This is the kind of country music that feels like it has been passed down through the generations and improved in time. And if Bob Dylan endorses them, you really can’t go wrong here.