Nickel Creek: A Dotted Line
“There are worse ways/ to start/ the first day, of the rest of my life,” Chris Thile sings, and A Dotted Line begins. It’s been seven years since Nickel Creek was a touring band, 11 since they won a Grammy under Alison Krauss’ helm, and 25 since they first formed. This isn’t a requisite reunion, but rather the outpouring of a band at their peak. Having garnered cult status because of their talent, Nickel Creek always eluded mainstream success because they didn’t write typical hits, even of the Mumford variety. Thile is a genius on the mandolin, who—combined with Sean Watkin’s country guitar and sister Sara’s indie-conscious fiddling—recreates old folk for the 21st century. Fans of “Ode to a Butterfly” will find new favorites in “Elsie” and “Elephants in the Corn” (with Edgar Meyer on bass), but they’ll be most excited by “Hayloft.” The final tune is by the Canadian band Mother Mother, and the Nickel Creek cover retains all the weirdness and unusual arrangements of the original. The group excels at harmonies throughout, though Sara’s voice comes across best on the last track, Sam Phillips’ “Where is Love Now.” Other standouts include the classic “21st of May” and the cursed “Love of Mine,” but there’s not a song on the album that falls short. Each songwriter has circled back from the band’s hiatus with a fully realized sound; they recorded A Dotted Line in a mere twelve days. This summer, fans everywhere will be celebrating the return of Nickel Creek.