Music Matters Albums
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Nickel Creek Links:
The Official Nickel Creek Web Page
Sugar Hill Records
2000, Sugar Hill
Nickel Creeka group of award-winning musicians whove played together for over a decade. Flatpicking and modern folk influenced by everyone from Newgrass Revival to Toad the Wet Sprocket and Beethoven. A bluegrass album even non-bluegrass fans will appreciate.
Sounds interesting, but heres the kicker: Their ages range from 18 to 22 years old.
Music festival audiences have known about Nickel Creek for years. Theyve often been referred to as "that great little bluegrass band those kids play in."
With their self-titled debut release, some clarification is in order. This is an outstanding acoustic disc by a quartet of accomplished musicians who have over ten years of performing experience together. Nickel Creek is brother and sister Sara Watkins (fiddle) and Sean Watkins (guitar) along with Chris Thile (mandolin, bouzouki, banjo). Chris father, Scott Thile (an accomplished musician in his own right and an instrument technician by trade) plays bass in the band.
"Nickel Creek" was produced by Alison Krauss, herself a former child prodigy, so you know these folks are in good hands. (Sara Watkins singing and playing, in particular, sound a lot like Krauss.) The disc has an even mix of rapid-fire solos and rich melodic instrumentals.
Topping it off, these "kids" know their strengths and dont try to appear wise beyond their years. They show remarkable skill at writing and choosing songs on topics as diverse as a lighthouse pining for his old keeper ("The Lighthouse"), a boy learning about Jesus through the scars on his own hands ("The Hand Song"), and a fox playfully devouring a goose ("The Fox").
As Sara Watkins says in the liner notes, "We dont do a lot of lovesick and leaving tunes because we havent experienced a lot of it, and it is kind of awkward for us to do that."
Eat your heart out, Britney Spears.Michael Gaither