Album Review: Old Crow Medicine Show – Paint This Town

Here with their seventh studio record, Old Crow Medicine Show present a set of songs which see climate issues, race, relationships, and opioid problems addressed in equal importance. From the opening tracking “Paint This Town” through to the closing number “Hillbilly Boy”, the one thing you can rely on Old Crow Medicine Show for is to present a joyous love of music. No matter if the topic is personal, historical, or political, the love of music and class craftsmanship is displayed throughout.

As the sole remaining founding member, Ketch Secor steers the band through the record, having a writing credit on all 12 songs. Writing credits also go to Critter Fuqua, former founding member, who left the band in 2019, allowing a continuity of sorts despite the changing line-up of the band which has occurred throughout their 20+ years (Secor here is joined by Morgan Jahnig, Cory Younts and new members Jerry Pentecost, Mike Harris and Mason Via). Adding a little more of a rock and roll vibe to an American string band is the bands first dedicated percussionist, Pentecost, who also takes on lead vocals on “DeFord Rides Again” which acts as both a tribute to and call out of the treatment of DeFord Bailey, the African-American country music singer and the first person to ever be announced as performing on the Grand Ole Opry in 1927.

Lead single “Paint This Town” draws you into the record with a good country rock feel about the youthful memories of small-town living. The driving drumbeat, harmonies, and storytelling set up the rest of the record. This is what Old Crow Medicine Show are good at. Pulling you into their foot tapping, hollering fun as once they’ve got you listening you’ll be more receptive to the messages they are trying to get across. Whether that being a greater appreciation of the environment, an understanding of those who have gone before you, or highlighting the issues of addiction.

Several songs on the record give you more of an old-time romping feel including “Lord Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise” and “Bombs Away”. Finsinishing out the record is “Hillbilly Boy” which is sure to be an instant favourite sing-along about ‘ol Wiley and his fiddle playing. It’s a good-natured song which keeps your foot tapping long after you’ve finished listening.

Giving both joyful moments and reflective pauses, Paint This Town offers a record which make you think whilst making you smile at the infectiousness of the music.

Ulrike Gotts