Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway played “Dire Wolf” closer to the Workingman’s Dead version – with fiddle subbing for pedal-steel guitar – than the Grateful Dead ever did after recording the album.
Tuttle’s version–long with a languid and folksy “Cold Rain and Snow” and live versions of “Dooley’s Farm”(with Jerry Douglas on Dobro) and “Castilleja”–make up the four tracks appended to Crooked Tree to create the just-released Deluxe Edition. And deluxe is the way to go.
Originally a 13-track LP with every song a Tuttle composition or co-write, Crooked Tree features a slew of bold-face guests, including co-producer Douglas, Sierra Hull, Old Crow Medicine Show, Margo Price, Billy Strings, Dan Tyminski and Gillian Welch. Pairing these players and singers with Tuttle’s own hot band makes for some fiery musical moments, despite the occasional bit of filler material.
But when Tuttle’s pen is flowing—such as on the title track that celebrates uniqueness; “Dooley’s,” which updates an old bluegrass theme with Strings and brings it into the mainstream-marijuana era; and “Side Saddle,” a convincing argument that women should be in charge, recorded with Welch – it all comes together. Tuttle just turned 30 and is bound to make a classic bluegrass album—and perhaps several—as her career unfolds. Crooked Tree is an important step in that direction.