While they started as a bluegrass band, Old Crow Medicine Show (OCMS) in recent years have won two Grammys and are considered one of our best roots bands, meshing Americana, old-timey music, folk and rock into an appealing sound. "Jubilee," their eighth studio album, is likely named for their 25th anniversary although the leadoff track is "Jubilee Jones."
Co-producer Matt Ross-Spang returns from their previous effort "Paint This Town" and they again recorded in their home East Nashville studio. The current edition of the band remains with Ketch Secor (fiddle, harmonica, banjo, guitar, vocals), Morgan Jahnig (upright bass), Corey Younts (mandolin, keys, drums, vocals), Jerry Pentecost (mandolin, drums), Mike Harris (slide guitar, guitar, mandolin, banjo, Dobro, vocals) and Mason Via (guitar, gitjo, vocals)
When you have a successful formula, and a terrific songwriter in Secor, it's not prudent to stray from their mix of country, old timey, bluegrass, jug band tunes and Irish folk songs with a southern gospel number or two for good measure. All those forms appear here from the Irish steeped opener to the single, "Miles Away" where Molly Tuttle joins as a co-writer reciprocating that which Secor did on her recent album. This is a clear highlight featuring OCMS co-founder Willie Watson who sings with the band for the first time in 10 years. The indelible chorus will linger for days. There's little denying that "Belle Meade Cockfight" with Sierra Ferrell is a stirring, get-up-and-dance tune.
Other highlights include the blue-collar anthem "Allegheny Lullaby" as the defiant protagonist tries to escape his fate, the Scottish strains of the yearning "Daughter of the Highlands;" the humorous imagery of "Wolfman of the Ozarks," the gentrification protest of "Nameless, TN" and the uplifting gospel closer "One Drop" that features Mavis Staples.
Old Crow Medicine Show delivers dramatic and humorous narratives mostly wrapped in high energy stomping or meticulous musicianship that somehow comes off casually. With rotating lead vocalists and all band members pitching in on the co-writing, their approach is so varied that maybe they have another two and half decades in the tank.