With the recent resurgence of the old time folk sound led by contemporaries like Mumford & Sons and Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show have chosen a great time to return from their brief hiatus. "Carry Me Back" picks up right where their career high "Tennessee Pusher" left off, with OCMS playing their familiar high speed bluegrass and pre-war folk.
Working with producer Ted Hutt (Gaslight Anthem, Flogging Molly) for the first time allowed the group the freedom to experiment with their sound, but instead they chose to stick close to the formula that long time fans know well. The album opens with the fast paced Carry Me Back to Virginia and keeps the tempo high on Bootlegger's Boy and Mississippi Saturday Night.
The highlights are when they vary the tempo and take a step away from bluegrass to bring in hints of the blues and ragtime. Ain't It Enough is an uplifting ballad with a call to "love one another for its only one life that we got." Steppin' Out sounds loose and free, while Country Gal intentionally evokes the ghost of Hank Williams. Lyrically the group tackle topics that are as relevant today as they would have been when the music they are playing was more common. Closer Ways of Man is a slow classic country song with a melancholy feel that is reminiscent of BR5-49 and is a perfect bookend to the opener.
While groups like Mumford & Sons have brought the hipsters clambering towards all things retro folk, Old Crow Medicine Show unapologetically stick to its roots. The album is full of fiddle, Dobro and harmonica and showcases the groups high quality musicianship, while avoiding any indie rock overtones. "Carry Me Back" is undeniably an Old Crow Medicine Show album, which should delight long time fans and encourage new listeners.