Words by Doug Deloach
A quarter-century after capturing the imagination of the bluegrass community as pre-teen prodigies, Chris Thile (mandolin/vocals), Sara Watkins (fiddle/vocals) and Sean Watkins (guitar/vocals) have reunited to release their first album since 2007. Unlike the majority of ‘let’s get the band back together’ endeavours, A Dotted Line hits all the right notes that devoted fans might want to hear, while reasserting Nickel Creek’s reputation as one of most intelligent, imaginative and irresistibly appealing groups on the scene.
The album’s ten tracks eloquently evoke an extraordinary harmonic empathy across a range of material. Six co-written originals, one song each by Chris Thile and Sean Watkins, plus two cover versions encompass poignant progressive folk on ‘Rest of My Life’ and ‘Destination’, swinging traditional instrumentals (‘Elsie’ and ‘Elephant in the Corner’) and lyrically poetic laments (‘Christmas Eve’ and ‘Where is Love Now’). Then there is ‘Hayloft’, a freaky fresh take on a song by a Canadian band called Mother Mother, which stands out as something that only Nickel Creek could pull off with such playful brilliance and stylistic panache. Not only are the bluegrass kids still alright, they’re better than ever.
Track to Try: ‘Hayloft’