This Side

This Side

by Nickel CreekNickel Creek


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Nickel Creek's twin desires -- to honor acoustic roots music and update it with a post-millennial pop flourish -- won the young trio a host of fans for their spirited debut. The group's second album, This Side, furthers the cause, seamlessly melding bluegrass and pop strains in a fashion that should attract new admirers even as some mountain-music purists grumble. But tradition is only one side of the Nickel Creek story, and This Side appropriately focuses more on the band's originals and clever covers. No one walks the pop-bluegrass intersect better than Alison Krauss, who returns to produce This Side, allowing the trio to stretch but reining them in before they get too far out there. And out there they venture. Their version of Carrie Newcomer's folkish bit of self-recrimination, "I Should've Known Better," evokes the Beatles in its title, and Krauss's production frames Sara Watkins's delicate soprano in Fab Four touches, such as an "Eleanor Rigby"-style string quartet that plays dissonant retorts and swirling, ascending passages. The pop-folk-rock arrangement of "Spit On a Stranger," from the pen of Pavement's Stephen Malkmus, includes some processed background voices and a snaking electric guitar line. Nickel Creek's originals, mostly written by mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile, are equally inspired. Thile's intriguing meditation on youthful love and commitment, "Young," and his "Brand New Sidewalk," a cautionary ballad addressing the pitfalls of fame (keyed by Sean Watkins's Leo Kottke-like riffs), are as emotionally honest as the musical elements are beautifully realized. Nickel Creek's reach oftentimes threatens to exceed their grasp, which makes the effort even more impressive when it works, as on "Spit On a Stranger," where Thile strains to reach a high note and then nails it. Ultimately, they profit from the experience, emerging with something fresh and vital. This Side is a scintillating exercise in making music with muscle, meaning, and great heart.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/13/2002
Label: Sugarhill
UPC: 0015891394121
catalogNumber: 3941


  1. Smoothie Song
  2. Spit on a Stranger
  3. Speak
  4. Hanging by a Thread
  5. Should've Known Better
  6. This Side
  7. Green and Gray
  8. Seven Wonders
  9. House Carpenter
  10. Beauty and the Mess
  11. Sabra Girl
  12. Young
  13. Brand New Sidewalk

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Nickel Creek   Primary Artist
Edgar Meyer   Bass,Upright Bass
Byron House   Acoustic Bass
Chris Thile   Bouzouki,Guitar,Mandolin,Strings,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Sara Watkins   Fiddle,Strings,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Sean Watkins   Guitar,Vocals,Vocal Harmony

Technical Credits

Alison Krauss   Producer
Neal Cappellino   Engineer
Gary Paczosa   Engineer
Jason Lehning   Engineer
Chris Thile   Arranger
Terry Hoff   Illustrations
Sara Watkins   Arranger
Sean Watkins   Arranger
Wendy Stamberger   Art Direction
Tracy Martinson   Engineer

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