Album: Crooked Tree
Artist: Molly Tuttle, Golden Highway
Label: Molly Tuttle, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records, Inc.
Non-Airable Tracks: N/A
Dropped somewhat unexpectedly, Molly Tuttle released her latest album, Crooked Tree, on April 1st. It was the first album formally released in collaboration with Tuttle’s all-star backing bluegrass group, Golden Highway, with members Shelby Means, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, Dominick Leslie, and Kyle Tuttle.
Simply put, Crooked Tree is pure, unbridled bluegrass. It is difficult to write words that accurately reflect the brilliance of this album. Each song is breathtaking and leaves the listener momentarily fulfilled and shocked. These feelings are swiftly replaced by a craving for more.
The second track, “Flatland Girl,” features all-time bluegrass and Americana artist, Margo Price, describing the trials and tribulations of life in the agricultural Midwest. The next track, “Dooley’s Farm,” brings in the company of Tuttle’s longtime friend and Flatpicking legend, Billy Strings. The song tells the tale of a Vietnam Veteran turned Blueridge hills moonshiner, highlighted by a serious but elusive tone. Fourth on the album is, “Big Backyard,” which is backed by Old Crow Medicine Show. With a significantly cheerier tone than that which precedes it, the complex instrumentation coupled with harmonized chorus makes this tune prime real-estate for string bands seeking a new song to cover. The title track, fifth in the lineup, carries gentle melodies, driving mandolin rhythms, and an explosive chorus; all of which cause unintentional foot tapping.
The album has a total of 13 songs to enjoy, featuring more names than those previously mentioned, most of which are instantly recognizable fans of the bluegrass/Americana community: Sierra Hull, Gillian Welch, and Dan Tyminski. Multiple themes and tones are expressed in Crooked Tree meaning most listeners will find, at the very least, one tune to enjoy.
So far, Crooked Tree tops my list for album of the year. The mounting appearances of bluegrass legends on this album have arguably formed it into one of the best to grace a listener’s ear since the era of Skaggs, Scruggs, and Monroe.
1. Billy Strings
2. Old Crow Medicine Show
3. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
1. Dooley's Farm
2. Nashville Mess Around
3. Goodbye Girl
Reviewer’s Name: Hayden Tillinger
Date of Review: 25 April 2022