A change of producer gives the young bluegrass trio Nickel Creek a chance to show...
Sue Keogh 2002
Having adhered to the Alison Krauss 'shhh, not so loud!' approach to production for their excellent first two albums, young prog-bluegrass trio Nickel Creek are now under the guidance of Good Charlotte and Queens Of The Stone Age producer Eric Valentine.Andthey'reclearly enjoying the chance to clatter around a bit more.
It's like they've found their dark side. Fiddle player and squeaky clean vocalist Sara Watkins now has a much more assertive edge, and the lyrics have gone beyond putting one's lover on a pedestal to something altogether more scathing; "I hope you meet someone your height so you can see eye to eye/ With someone as small as you" ("Somebody More Like You").Sounds like someone upset Sean Watkins before he wrote that song.
Why Should The Fire Die is one of those albums which grows on you, revealing more light and shade with each listen. But what shines through immediately is the sheer musical brilliance, found in the careful harmonies of the title track or the intricacy of the arrangements on "Helena" and "Eveline".
Seeing mandolinist Chris Thile and his cohorts perform live is something you do with an open mouth, and while it's always difficult to capture that energy on a studio recording, the instrumentals certainly give you a flavour of the fun they'll be having on the road this year; "First And Last Waltz" is smooth and dreamy, "Stumptown" is a merry little jig, and "Scotch And Chocolate" is just reel-y good, ho ho ho.
All the songs are written by the band, with the exception of Dylan favourite "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" and a co-write with Jayhawk Gary Louris on "Jealous Of The Moon" (think Soul Asylum). Considering the artists they've worked with lately from Dolly Parton and John Paul Jones to the LA Philharmonic, this timid choice of collaborator is a missed opportunity to be really adventurous and at the same time grab the column inches they so rightfully deserve.