Note: The latest release from The Black Crowes is essentially a double album of new material (and a Stephen Stills cover) that was recorded live in the studio in front of an intimate audience. Before the Frost is the official album release and Until the Freeze is a free bonus disc that purchasers of the physical CD can download using a code. However, if you buy the album on iTunes, you get all 20 tracks at once—the first 11 are Frost and the last nine are Freeze.
Sound (Before the Frost…): As usual, the Crowes’ music pays a heavy debt to the past, particularly the late ‘60s and ’70s output from artists like The Rolling Stones, Faces, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. They bounce between loose barroom boogies, thick blues jams, country/folky reflections and—the curveball—a disco rocker.
Sound (…Until the Freeze): Far more acoustic, country-tinged (lots of fiddle and pedal steel) and mellow, but it starts with a psychedelic hoedown jam. With this disc, there’s really no hint of modern music. This is a true time warp to the eras of old timey hillbillies and idealist hippies.
Heavy Rotation tracks: “Houston Don’t Dream About Me”; “And the Band Played On”; “Good Morning Captain”; “Garden Gate”; “Shine Along”
Medium Rotation tracks: “Appaloosa”; “What Is Home”; “I Ain’t Hiding”; “Shady Grove”; “So Many Times”; “Been A Long Time (Waiting On Love)”
Recommended: Before the Frost borrows vintage sounds and styles more than any other Crowes official release—so you can’t commend them on their originality here—but the songwriting and performances are stellar. The band sounds inspired and invigorated, and recording the album live in the studio definitely helps gives these songs a contemporary freshness and energy. Until the Freeze digs even deeper into the past and serves as an enjoyable celebration of 20th Century American music styles.
Grade: Before the Frost…A- ; …Until the Freeze B+