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O Cracker Where Art Thou?

Cracker & Leftover Salmon

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Album Review

It's not exactly an outgrowth of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? phenomenon, nor is it quite an "unplugged" set, but this album does offer stripped-down, partially acoustic arrangements of songs better known in rock versions. On this session, Cracker members David Lowery and Johnny Hickman sing a group of familiar Cracker songs that have appeared previously on the group's albums, backed by the alternative country band Leftover Salmon. So, for example, leadoff track "Get off This" from Kerosene Hat becomes a bluegrass/reggae number, while "Eurotrash Girl," which follows, becomes a country-waltz with a plunking banjo playing along. Cracker's oddball lyrics get greater emphasis in these arrangements, but Lowery and Hickman are careful to sing them straightforwardly, as if they were no more unusual than the words to the average country song. And some of those words are given new shades of meaning in this context. Now that "Teen Angst" is being played as a fast-paced bluegrass breakdown, its refrain, "'Cause what the world needs now/Is another folksinger/Like I need a hole in my head," comes off more wry and less smug than it did on Cracker's self-titled debut album, as each chorus is followed by extensive soloing. O Cracker, Where Art Thou? provides a different way of hearing Cracker's catalog that may help a new audience recognize the quality of the group's songs. And Leftover Salmon provides plenty of good picking.

Biography

Formed: 1991 in Redlands, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

During Cracker's heyday in the 1990s, the Virginia-based band molded elements of alternative pop/rock and country into several irreverent, buzzworthy anthems. Singer/guitarist David Lowery made no attempt to mask his affinity for traditional roots music, but his own background was far from traditional, as he spent the '80s fronting the quirky alternative outfit Camper Van Beethoven. Shortly after Camper Van Beethoven embarked on a long hiatus in 1990, Lowery began demoing new material with guitarist...
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O Cracker Where Art Thou?, Cracker
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