Thursday, September 13, 2007

"Somebody More Like You" / Nickel Creek

A few weeks ago I had the unexpected pleasure of seeing this alt-bluegrass trio perform in Central Park (see here for my review). I love it when you take a chance on a band whose music you've never heard, and they turn out to be GREAT.

Nickel Creek (not to be confused in any way shape or form with Nickelback) consists of fiddler Sara Watkins, her brother Sean on acoustic guitar, and their friend Chris Thile on mandolin. They've been playing professionally since they were about 10, but they're 20-somethings now and they've evolved from traditional bluegrass into this wonderful hybrid that's indie rock one minute, folk the next, quirky downtown pop the next. This track is one of Sean's (you'll find it on their 2005 album Why Should The Fire Die?) and it really sold to the crowd that night in the park.

It starts out so earnest, with a folky guitar line and Sean's wistful tenor, backed up by Sara's harmonies and mournful fiddle solo. "I didn't hear you / Say you're / Sorry," he begins, adding "the fault must be mine." At first I take that remark at face value, but the song soon enough slides into snarkiness, as each repeated melodic phrase edges down the scale. "I wish you all the best of luck / In finding somebody more like you." As the song develops, it becomes plenty clear that being like her is NOT something he admires.

"You said you'd love me / Always / Truly," he reminds her, adding ironically "I must have changed." Yeah, right -- I can just imagine him rolling his eyes. And in the bridge, he really lets her have it -- "I hope you meet someone your height / So you can see eye to eye /With someone as small as you." Ouch.

It's a rueful minor-key melody, delicately syncopated and sparely arranged. Their bluegrass roots are still there, in Sean's nimble guitar picking and Sara's singing fiddle, but that bongo-like percussion (which I seem to recall was Chris tapping on the body of his mandolin) plants a foot in alt-rock. It's hypnotic, smart, subtle --- just the sort of thing I like.

Song after song from these folks that night kept wowing me. I walked out afterward simply buzzing with happiness, my faith in modern music restored.

Somebody More Like You sample

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is this the same group that have made an album with Franz Ferdinand songs transformed into bluegrass?
In that case - I like them!