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Album review | ROOTS

Nickel Creek, ‘A Dotted Line’

Brantley Gutierrez

When this virtuosic roots trio went on “indefinite hiatus” in 2007 it wasn’t to take a vacation, although they’d certainly earned one having played together since childhood. Instead, all three singer-instrumentalists — mandolinist Chris Thile, fiddler Sara Watkins, and guitarist Sean Watkins — pursued a plethora of solo and group projects that traversed bluegrass, country, pop, rock, and classical.

But like old friends who fall right back into conversation, Nickel Creek picks up the thread in glorious fashion on “A Dotted Line.”

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The time away has done the California-spawned group good, as the conversation is familiar — intricate instrumental phrasing, pristine harmonies — but also full of fresh energy that lends everything from the buoyant gospel bluegrass of “21st of May” to the joyously bleary “Rest of My Life” an air of excitement.

In addition to new original material the trio tackles two covers including Sam Phillips’s “Where Is Love Now” and a funky, angular take on Mother Mother’s “Hayloft.”

Celebrating the band’s 25th anniversary, “A Dotted Line” is a vibrant reminder of Nickel Creek’s youthful promise and proof that it has plenty left to say. (Out Tuesday)

ESSENTIAL “Destination”

Nickel Creek plays the House of Blues on May 1.

Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com.
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