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Not Too Sharp

University of New Hampshire

Wagon Wheel - Single (2014)


Review By Catherine Lewis

January 6, 2015

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Catherine Lewis

In many ways, the lore surrounding Wagon Wheel far surpasses the complexity of the song itself: a Virginia teenager heard some lyric outtakes on a Bob Dylan bootleg and wrote a song around them, which he later popularized with his band Old Crow Medicine Show.

The song's laid-back tale of homesickness and hitchhiking adventures is perfectly captured by the University of New Hampshire's Not Too Sharp. The all-male group lays down a gently rocking groove and layers the easygoing lead on top. On the surface, these singers haven't added much to the song, but what makes their performance so interesting is in their execution of the details. They start the song with a gently rolling build that fully captures our attention with their harmonies on the song's most famous line before settling into the first lonesome verse. There are so many beautiful moments here: the lovely swell into the first chorus, the transition of the song's fiddle lines into a mellow mouth trumpet, the punchy chorus after the final verse, and the closing line that harks back to the opening build — just to name a few.

A few more dynamics would've really given this song a more compelling arc, but overall, Not Too Sharp has made a version of Wagon Wheel that stands strong even without the string band instrumentation that made it so famous.

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