My discovery of the California-based trio of folk/bluegrass/pop stars Nickel Creek was indeed one of my most pleasant finds of 2005. Their most recent studio album, Why Should the Fire Die?, prompted a deepening interest in the fusion genre.
Now, after only three albums over the 21st Century, Nickel Creek has seen fit to release a best-of album. While part of me considers it a minor cash-in, considering the aforementioned dearth of titles, I have not to this point heard their previous two release, Nickel Creek and This Side, and Reasons Why serves as a sort of crash course for those getting their feet wet with the band.
One thing I noticed immediately was the top-heavy amount of tracks from their most recent album; a fact that puzzled me considering the damn thing only came out a year ago. In total, five tracks from that album appear here, four from Nickel Creek, three from This Side. Perhaps this had to do with the lack of music videos from Why Should the Fire Die? on the accompanying DVD. This could perhaps be because of the decidedly darker, mature turn on that album, an image the band continues to want to reflect. Still, it’s nice to hear some of the more innocent, almost naïve tracks like “Out of the Woods” and “Reasons Why,” which have become perennial repeaters in my CD player.
In addition, two live tracks are featured on the audio disc, the highlight being “The Fox,” recorded in 2000. Akin to a real old fashioned hoedown, Sean Watkins (I believe) sings this tune, belting out a fascinating story at breakneck speed, while his acoustic guitar smokes, Chris Thile’s mandolin hums and Sara Watkins’ violin goes wild. These are extremely talented musicians.
Going back to those videos on the other disc, they really add nothing to this set. I was excited to see what kind of visual interpretation they’d bring to the deep stories behind “The Lighthouse’s Tale” and “When in Rome,” but all I got was the three of them for the most part staring into the camera and playing their instruments in various locales. Boooring.
All in all, Reasons Why (The Very Best) is a very solid snapshot into the musical world of Nickel Creek and a very good starter for anyone who’s not yet taken the plunge. You might as well do so now, as the band announced they’d be taking a hiatus from the Nickel Creek format sometime in 2007. A shame, but at least we’ll still have their solo efforts.