I’ve mentioned my Nickel Creek withdrawals before, and how their breakup (“hiatus”?) is still my worst one. Lest this turn into a paragraph about how much I still, and likely always will, love Nickel Creek I’ll just say that I suspect that Sarah Jarosz does too. Unlike me, though, Sarah Jarosz has talent and an ability to recreate the same kind of moods and pleasantries that come with mingling of folk, bluegrass, and pop that Nickel Creek did so well.
On “Follow Me Down”, Sarah Jarosz provides an album that will please all longing Nickel Creek fans, and maybe make some new fans. It was not a surprise to me to find youtube videos of Sarah playing with Nickel Creek members, as the comparisons are easy. Forgive me if I don’t make head-shaking criticisms of Sarah’s perhaps shameless copying, because originality here is so overshadowed by the sheer wonderfulness of the copycatting. “Come Around” might be the best example if only for the male backing vocal, but it is executed so fantastically with the energy and mandolin plucking. “Run Away” and “Annabelle Lee” are also stars on the album, and three songs into the album I dare you not to fall in love. And if there haven’t been enough Nickel Creek references yet, there’s also a well-done remake of Bob Dylan track “Ring Them Bells”, a la Nickel Creek’s redo of “Tomorrow is a Long Time”.
One of the strengths of the album is it’s consistency. There is no track I’d call poor, even if there are some that don’t measure up to the rest. The dreaminess of “My Muse” is particularly unique, and the decision to cover Radiohead’s “Tourist”, one of my personal favorite songs, is the most wonderful kind of pandering I’ve ever seen. Instrumentals like “Old Smitty” and “Peace” are also well-placed, and “Gypsy” is perfect for the right mood.
I haven’t read any reviews of Sarah’s album, but let me wager a guess. Originality is likely a strike against her, because it is as if she set out to make the missing Nickel Creek album. For me, I do not care about this. This may be surprising, as originality is important to me, but this album is so well done and I miss Nickel Creek just that much that I highly, highly recommend it to Nickel Creek fans and more.