Nickel Creekby Nickel Creek
The new face of progressive bluegrass, Nickel Creek -- a trio that includes 24-year-old Sean Watkins (guitar), his 20-year-old sister Sara (fiddle), and 20-year-old Chris Thile (mandolin), with a big assist from Thile's father, Scott, an accomplished bassist -- goes way beyond the blue on its stunning debut, culling stylistic statements from folk, classical, pop, country, Celtic,and jazz (at a very minimum) and employing those elements adeptly over the course of a dozen mostly original songs that are by turns haunting and exhilarating. The band's producer is none other than Alison Krauss, and her touch is all over Nickel Creek, especially in the sustained dreamy ambience pervading each track -- this could well be a sequel to Krauss's own stark masterpiece, Forget About It. Fans of bracing, dexterous instrumental work will find a lot to chew on here, particularly in the album-opening "Ode to a Butterfly," which announces Nickel Creek's arrival in no uncertain terms, and in "In the House of Tom Bombadil," as Thile sets the pace with breathtaking mandolin variations on an Irish melody before giving way to equally bracing guitar and fiddle sorties from the Watkinses. Thile is a wonderful vocalist, too, his voice not a high lonesome bluegrass tenor but rather resembling the late British folksinger Nick Drake's fragile, searching instrument. Suffice it to say that Sara Watkins could be Krauss's vocal clone, and when she floats into her soft, crystalline upper register on a song such as the aching "Reasons Why," she touches the human heart in its deepest place. This happens with uncommon frequency on what sounds like an album for the ages.
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Performance CreditsNickel Creek Primary Artist
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