Crooked Jades

World's on Fire

Even with an entirely new lineup — only founding member Jeff Kazor remains — the Crooked Jades' latest release, World's on Fire, is embarrassingly addictive. Traditionalists may criticize the album for its accessibility, since some of the authentic nasality, droning, and bizarre old-Appalachian slang the band has been known for in the past have been softened here. But clapping, stomping, ecstatic old-timey music fans will drown out any prissy nitpicking where this recording is concerned. The addition of Jennie Benford, formerly of Jim & Jennie and the Pinetops, is the star here: A creepy lilt in her pretty voice complements the insane lyrics ("Eyes inside a wooden face/ Watch you from the fireplace") of the opening track "Can't Stare Down a Mountaineer." Overall, Fire is a mix of meticulous instrumentals, traditional songs brilliantly arranged (usually by Kazor), and eerie, beautiful originals. "Goodbye Trouble the Soul of Man" causes shivers and contemplation of divine mysteries, and "One Girl on the Turnpike Road" is a swooping, sparkling frame for Benford's crystalline voice, a strange song for a strange girl. But it is the stomp and the sweat of the closing title track that grabs you by the throat, preaches damnation, and moves your hips all at once.

 
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