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Albums Of The Week: Nickel Creek | Celebrants

The beloved trio balance tradition and invention on their first album in nine years.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Celebrants is the first new release in nine years from Grammy-winning trio Nickel Creek — mandolinist Chris Thile, violinist Sara Watkins and guitarist Sean Watkins. Their fifth studio album, Celebrants marks a highly anticipated return for the beloved trio and explores the inherent dynamics of human connection.

Across the 18 tracks, the trio address love, friendship and time with lyrics both poetic and plainspoken, as they see bridges built, crossed, burned and rebuilt. Recorded at Nashville’s RCA Studio A, the album was produced by longtime collaborator Eric Valentine (Queens Of The Stone Age, Grace Potter, Weezer) and features Mike Elizondo on bass.

“This is a record about embracing the friction inherent in real human connection,” the band say. “We begin the record yearning for and pursuing harmonious connection. We end the record having realized that truly harmonious connection can only be achieved through the dissonance that we’ve spent our entire adult lives trying to avoid.”

A group who are more than the sum of their impressive parts, Nickel Creek revolutionized bluegrass and folk in the early 2000s and ushered in a new era of Americana. After meeting as young children and subsequently earning the respect of the bluegrass circuit for a decade, the trio signed with venerable label Sugar Hill Records in 2000 and quickly broke through with their Grammy-nominated, Alison Krauss-produced self-titled LP. After that effort, they released three more studio albums: 2002’s This Side, which won Best Contemporary Folk Album at the 45th Grammy Awards, 2005’s Why Should the Fire Die? and 2014’s A Dotted Line.

Each member of Nickel Creek has also taken part in many outside projects over the years. Thile is a 2012 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and served as the host of the American radio show Live from Here (formerly A Prairie Home Companion) from 2016 to 2020. He has also released collaborative albums with world-renowned musicians like Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Brad Mehldau and Stuart Duncan, as well as six studio albums with his Grammy-winning band Punch Brothers. Sean Watkins is a co-founder of Watkins Family Hour alongside Sara, who has released three albums and maintains a long-running collaborative show in Los Angeles. Sean has also released a string of solo albums, while Sara’s extracurricular projects include the aforementioned Watkins Family Hour, as well as the Grammy-winning roots trio I’m With Her, which she co-founded alongside Aoife O’Donovan and Sarah Jarosz. Sara has released four studio albums and has contributed fiddle to recordings by artists like Phoebe Bridgers, The Killers and John Mayer.”