Crooked Still,
Hop High
(Footprint, 2004)

Hop High opens with "Darling Corey," a song Crooked Still performed when they formed in 2001 for a concert at New England Conservatory.

One of the joys of a new group is the new outlook and new angle on the music. You will not have heard "Lonesome Road" performed in the way that Crooked Still has it on this album. The odd thing is, when you hear it this way you may not want the more traditional version. This is a true instance of one well-known song becoming a completely new song and being great in its new incarnation.

"Flora" is a song that many will associate with Joan Baez, in fact the band acknowledges learning it from one of her old albums. They give it a great vitality, especially the banjo. Some may remember it as "Lily of the West."

One of my favourites on the album comes from the pen of Gillian Welch. It is "Orphan Girl," and it is very well produced here. The song that I like best on the album is "Look on and Cry." It has a lovely sound combining voices, guitar and banjo picking.

They close the CD with the excellent "Shady Grove," a staple of the bluegrass circuit. They note that it brings them memories of singing out in the kitchen and that exuberance is captured here.

Crooked Still is a group to note and to watch out for. They have a wonderful youthful vitality that will bring new life to old tunes but always with respect for the tradition.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 30 April 2005