Crooked Still Enter ‘Strange’ Territory
Crooked Still may have to thank Mother Nature for the magic that infuses their latest album.
Although other musicians may thank their parents, friends, and creative team for their musical inspiration, this year's fierce snowstorms in Charlottesville, Va. -- where the band had gathered with their producer Gary Paczosa (Alison Krauss and Union Station, Tim O'Brien, Dolly Parton) to work on their latest album 'Some Strange Country' -- are what switched on the bandmates' creative energies.
"Sometimes we have been limited due to time constraints," Crooked Still's lead vocalist Aoife O'Donovan tells The Boot of the band's songwriting and recording processes. "At that time we had 10 days with nothing else to do. Literally, we could not leave... We had these pockets of time when we'd work on music in front of the fireplace or hallway or even while everyone was eating lunch together. It was very special."
The result is an album of 12 songs that includes five originals (counting an iTunes bonus track) and re-imagined traditional songs. Anyone who knows the band members' extensive musical pedigrees -- including Aoife's degree from the New England Conservatory of Music -- won't likely be surprised the songs are lush and beautifully played. What is stunning is how the band members reinvent classics so masterfully that they arguably top the original versions.
Consider the in-your-face classic 'Henry Lee.' Aoife brought the tune to her bandmates who examined it, discussed it, massaged it, and finally resculpted it into a mellow nu-grass sound so lovely you may wonder why you ever enjoyed the original.
"The process was so different than it was in the past," Aoife says. "What came out of that were arrangements that were different, songs that were different. As a band we came together and [the songs] fell together really naturally... It felt like summer camp; it was really, really cool."
Not that the five band members didn't each have a voice in the songs prior to the Charlottesville sessions. Likening past collaborations as akin to the metaphoric "five cooks in the kitchen," Aoife says the situation forced the members to slow down and work together just for the sheer joy of the process.
"There were numerous moments...when we were sitting around listening to a song [a band member presented to the others] and really starting from scratch," says Aoife. "The whole thing was just super collaborative."
'Some Strange Country' is available online and on the band's tour beginning May 18 and elsewhere June 1.
The band's next concert is May 19 in Hudson, N.Y. with shows scheduled until July 24 in South Hiram, Maine. For a complete list, check the band's website.