Home Read Classic Album Review: Nickel Creek | This Side

Classic Album Review: Nickel Creek | This Side

The contemporary bluegrass trio's sophomore set is a long way from Flatt & Scruggs.

This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


For the past century or so, bluegrass has been all about tradition. But these days, bluegrass has gone pop. So now we have Nickel Creek, a bluegrass band for the new millennium.

This clean-cut young trio — mandolin player Chris Thile, fiddler Sara Watkins and her brother Sean on guitar — have apparently been influenced just as much by ’90s alt-rock and pop as by turn-of-the-century folk music. On This Side, their second CD, they combine those worlds with exuberence and passion, most noticably on their weird and wonderful backwoods cover of Pavement’s Spit On A Stranger. The band’s originals follow a similar path, blending melodies and vocal harmonies that wouldn’t be out of place on a Backstreet Boys disc with instrumentation and arrangments that would be right at home on the Opry stage. All in all, it’s a long way from Flatt and Scruggs. But it does offer some hope that bluegrass won’t die when Ralph Stanley does.