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Why Should the Fire Die?

Nickel Creek's first offering in three years is—like its predecessor, 2002's This Side—another sizable leap forward for a trio whose artistry is growing at an almost frightening rate.

Fire finds mandolinist Chris Thile, fiddler Sara Watkins and guitarist Sean Watkins recording for the first time without mentor Alison Krauss as producer. The result is a clearer sense of the group's identity, a more aggressive sound, and a darker tone, as these former child prodigies confront the troubling realities of adulthood. But it's the strength of the songs, and the way the threesome's intertwining instrumental and vocal lines carry them forward, that suggests Nickel Creek's fire is in no danger of dying.

-Chris Neal

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