Mandolin god Chris Thile – former and current leader of Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers, respectively – is generally known for kicking bluegrass forward: Check out his down-home covers of Radiohead’s “Morning Bell” and Pavement‘s “Spit On A Stranger.” This ridiculously blazing set with hot-shit Brooklyn guitarist Michael Daves, recorded at Jack White’s Third Man studio in Nashville (where they also cut a 7″ single with White, “Man In The Middle/Blue Night”), focuses instead on old timey material by Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, and others. Dusty museum pieces they’re not: The uptempo jams are wild-picking shred fests, and the ballads cut deep. On a soulful reading of the traditional “Rain and Snow” (a Grateful Dead staple), the pair’s high lonesome harmonies are hollered up like pleas from the depths of a coal mine. That’s a place these city-slickers have probably never been. But no doubt they understand the rock-bottom blues.
Listen to “Rabbit in the Log”:
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