Nickel Creek, Reasons Why

I don’t think any artist or group could have come up with a better compilation than Nickel Creek’s Reasons Why.

The compilation is unique in that it’s not exactly a greatest hits cd. A number of songs made the album that I can’t recall ever having heard on the radio, yet it should be said that real hard-core Nickel Creek fans probably know the songs anyway. General country radio fans will know The Lighthouse’s Tale, When In Rome, Smoothie Song, Reasons Why, This Side, and When You Come Back Down. Other tracks included are Out of the Woods, a haunting prayer/wish/dream sung by Sara Watkins, beckoning a friend or lover come out of the woods and join her, Helena, a progressive track leaning toward rock and roll led by Chris Thile, Somebody More Like You, another Chris led song with rich harmonies added by Sara which serves as a pretty sarcastic well wish to an ex, Can’t Complain, yet another Chris led vocal which follows more of a general acoustic feel than specifically bluegrass or country, I Should’ve Known Better, a groovy little Sara sung tune with some unorthodox yet intriguing fiddle arrangement and production and what I can only describe as textural whispers, and Jealous of the Moon, a more traditional Chris led tune as far as vocal and mandolin, with beautiful harmony and an intriguing lyrical message.

Also included are two live performances, both recorded at The Freight and Salvage on November 16, 2000. The first is You Don’t Have to Move That Mountain, a gospel bluegrass tune sung by Sara, and a nine minute version of a highly energetic and imaginitive The Fox, which also includes segments of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues, Bill Monroe’s Jerusalem Ridge, and J. S. Bach’s E Major Partita.

A second disc includes each of the group’s seven music videos.

I remember stating at one point in my own blog that I really didn’t know what Sara brought to the group. Looking through the songwriting credits, her name is noticeably absent, while Chris’s and Sara’s brother, Sean Watkins are very prominent. Most of these songs were written or cowritten by one of the two boys. However, it’s also fairly noticeable that Sara and Chris handle most of the vocal duties while Sean stays in the background. I’ve also doubted Sara’s fiddling abilities in the past, and after hearing some of the tracks that were never released to radio, I’m pretty embarrassed I ever did. The girl knows how to handle her instrument. In fact, all three contribute quite equally when it comes to instrumental musicianship. Every note is creatively and purposefully played.

Overall, it’s a great disc to pick up, even if you own the group’s first three cds. The recording of The Fox alone is worth your money, and having the videos to watch whenever you want is a sweet little luxury, especially since a few of them didn’t get much air time on CMT or GAC.