CD Review of Reasons Why (The Very Best) by Nickel Creek

Music Home / Entertainment Channel / Bullz-Eye Home

Buy your copy from Nickel Creek:
Reasons Why (The Very Best)
starstarstarstarno star Label: Sugar Hill
Released: 2006
Buy from

Compiling a “very best of” for a group with only three releases under its belt could forgivably be seen as crass money-grabbing on Sugar Hill’s part, and maybe it is; we are, after all, approaching the industry’s official compilation season. On the other hand, in light of Nickel Creek’s recent announcement of an impending “indefinite hiatus,” a capstone on the band’s first seven years makes sense. Toss in a pair of live tracks and a DVD containing seven videos, and you’ve got yourself some value.

It isn’t perfect, of course, but it couldn’t have been. Part of what makes Nickel Creek so exciting for a lot of its fans is the same thing that makes a sensible, comprehensive single-disc overview impossible; namely, the band’s growing fascination with music that bends or breaks the boundaries of folk and bluegrass. By the time they released 2005’s Why Should the Fire Die?, the group had adapted a gleefully, willfully scattershot approach that forsook consistency and album-length narrative for eclecticism.

In other words, when compiling Reasons Why, Sugar Hill had two choices: showcase the band in all its woolly glory, and wind up with a wide-ranging collection lacking depth of focus, or hone in on a single aspect of Nickel Creek’s personality, trusting that first-time listeners will be sufficiently drawn in to find out more. Reasons fits the latter description, which is bound to please some fans and alienate others; in terms of pure cohesiveness, it’s the band’s best album, but it achieves this status by largely ignoring the left-field artistic decisions that helped make them famous.

That being said, it should be difficult to quibble too seriously with this set’s ingredients; even if they tend to land on the safer, prettier side of the Nickel Creek spectrum, that’s no crime, and they serve as a wholly enjoyable introduction to the band’s work. It’s surprising, in fact, just how smoothly these tracks run together – when you consider the size and scope of the group’s evolution in sound, no amount of cherry-picking would seem to be enough to tie these three albums together. What Reasons Why makes eminently clear, however, is that – production gewgaws and surprising cover songs aside – the band’s music rests squarely and solidly on the crystalline performances and preternatural interplay of Chris Thile and Sean and Sara Watkins.

“Indefinite hiatus” is an old favorite often whistled by bands as they stroll through the out door, and if that turns out to be the case with Nickel Creek, the neo-trad roots music community will certainly be the poorer for it. Whether as an introduction or a coda, Reasons Why succeeds.

~Jeff Giles