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David Royko Psy.D


Nickel Creek - Why Should the Fire Die?

Chicago Tribune

July 22, 2005

RECORDINGS


Nickel Creek

Why Should The Fire Die? (Sugar Hill)

By David Royko



Nickel Creek’s 2002 disc, This Side, reveled in its

eclecticism, practically screaming from the rooftops,

“We can do it all and we will!” Why Should the Fire

Die manages to be equally varied while sounding more

stylistically unified, focused, sophisticated, and, as

might be expected from a band that has been together

for 15 years but whose members are only in their

mid-twenties, mature. All tracks are originals with

the exception of Bob Dylan’s “Tomorrow Is a Long

Time,” which is given an exceptional vocal by fiddler

Sara Watkins. The arrangements are rich and deeply

textured, amazingly so considering that this acoustic

group did little overdubbing and invited almost no

guests on board. The power of the opening cut, “When

In Rome,” a cautionary tale of conformity and

group-think with a whiff of stomping Celtic menace,

hits like a tidal wave, while the light-hearted

“Anthony” features a repeating mandolin ear-worm and

vocals that drip of old-style Western croon. One of

the three instrumentals, “Scotch and Chocolate,” could

be heard as a modernized extension of the traditional

“Cuckoo’s Nest” that has long been a rousing highlight

of live shows. Since their debut on Sugar Hill five

years ago, Nickel Creek has set the standards for

innovation within an acoustic setting, and their

latest raises the bar yet another notch.

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