Roots N Blues Headliners’ New Album Paints Lots Of Colors
Old Crow Medicine Show implicitly promises listeners everything they have on the title track that opens their new album “Paint This Town.”
“But one of these days, you and me, baby / We’ll spill the whole bucket / And paint this town,” the band says.
At first glance, the song might be an all-American portrayal of two lovers making a little corner of the world their own. But it also describes the band’s approach to sound on their first studio effort since 2018’s “Volunteer”; Old Crow Medicine Show spills the full paint bucket and colors the album with many shades.
The stalwart string band were recently named among the headliners of this fall’s Roots N Blues festival, keeping company with Wilco, Chaka Khan, Jon Batiste and more.
After:Wilco, Jon Batiste and Chaka Khan lead the field at the 2022 Roots N Blues Festival
This album opener possesses the wider appeal of a John Mellencamp with its confident opening strum patterns, bursts of organ and harmonica, and a chorus yearning to explode and above a center – small town city.
With California-born singer-songwriter Molly Tuttle in tow, the band makes a big rambling romp on the record’s second offering, “Bombs Away”; the song’s frenetic pace and stacked backing vocals suggest the start of an all-night hootenanny.
Elsewhere, “Gloryland” soars with a visceral crescendo, then settles into a laid-back haze a la The Band; the lyrics represent another way into the themes of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” – and perhaps a backdoor into heaven itself.
“Honey Chile” shifts from distant and near strains to a swampy country ballad, blending celestial vocals and an arrangement that digs through dark humus. “Good love / is a hard habit to break,” the refrain repeats, touching close to heart and home.
“Painkiller” is a wild ride, uniting the blistering pace of bluegrass with early rock accents and a subtly shape-shifting chorus melody.
After:Roots N Blues Headliner Jon Batiste Wins Grammy for Album of the Year
“Paint This Town” isn’t Old Crow’s strongest effort; records like 2006’s “Big Iron World” and 2008’s “Tennessee Pusher” carry upside-down charms and a tired, flashy vibe. The wider sound and sensitivities displayed here can’t quite match that tightly coiled feel.
But “Paint This Town” is a lot of fun and, luckily for Roots N Blues festival-goers, it looks like it will play great live. It might not be the band’s best album, but it might be the best time to see them.
Old Crow Medicine Show will play Roots N Blues on Sunday October 9 alongside Bleachers, Houndmouth, The SteelDrivers and more. Visit https://rootsnbluesfestival.com/ for details.
Aarik Danielsen is the Features and Culture Editor for Tribune. Contact him at [email protected] or by calling 573-815-1731. Find him on Twitter @aarikdanielsen.