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The Greencards, <em>Fascination</em>

greencardsThe Greencards
Fascination
stars-312

The Greencards are a trio consisting of Australians Carol Young and Kym Warner along with U.K. native Eamon McLoughlin. Up-and-comers with talent to spare and an eclectic range of influences, they have earned spots opening for both Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. They were awarded an Austin Music Award in 2003, an Americana Music Award in 2006, and, in 2008, earned a “Best Country Instrumental Performance” Grammy nomination. Their albums have incorporated blues, world music, and jazz, and have been labeled roots music, modern bluegrass, and Americana.

This brings us to their Sugar Hill debut, and the question, what is Fascination?

Fascination integrates elements of folk, country, modern bluegrass and Americana, and often draws upon elements of blues and world music one would expect only to find on National Public Radio. Yet, apply any of these labels to their latest album and they seem not only to fall short, but to feel completely inaccurate. Some will make comparisons to Nickel Creek or The Duhks, but The Greencards, while also technically breathtaking and acoustically driven, inspire comparison primarily because they have consistently moved towards a sound of their own.

With Fascination, The Greencards are held together by adventurousness and fueled by tight musical arrangements and the brilliant cadence of Carol Young’s vocals. It is also notable that Fascination marks the first time the group has worked with a producer, as it appears Jay Joyce (Patty Griffin, John Hiatt, The Duhks) has helped solidify a sound that has sometimes been muddled in past

outings.

The Greencards shine on the instrumental “Little Siam,” deliver up some indie-pop immediacy with acoustic rhythms on “Fascination,” delve into world music with “Chico Calling,” and finally flirt with their modern bluegrass roots on “Outskirts of Blue” and “Rivertown.”

This range is more impressive when one considers all but a single song on the album were written or co-written with a member of the Greencards. “Davey Jones,” a hauntingly sung tale of the dangers of the sea, serves as an excellent example of the strengths of Carol Young’s vocals and is the sole outside creation on the album. “Three Four Time” and “Into the Blue” are the only sleepers, somewhat cerebral and inaccessible at first listen.

With Fascination, The Greencards move away from eclectic sampling and into a sound that is intellectually and emotionally theirs. Fascination is an argument for music without borders; a melding of influences held together by fine lead vocals, ethereal instrumentation, and a sense that musicians don’t have to be anyone but themselves.

I’m not sure what section of the store you will find The Greencards new album (most likely bluegrass, Americana, or perhaps even country), but I am sure you should seek it out all the same.

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Before It’s Too Late

willieIn May of 2004, Bill and I were excited about the prospect of seeing Willie Nelson in our small town, in Maine, of about 13,000 people. We knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see such an icon without even having to travel ten minutes to reach the venue. Furthermore, he was on both of our lists of people to see before we died.

Sadly, we did not get to see Willie after all. On the same week he was supposed to visit our small town, he had to get carpal tunnel surgery. We had the option of either getting a refund or using our tickets for the rescheduled show in September. Once again, our luck was bad, because we were moving to Michigan the month before Willie’s make up date.

If you can’t tell, I still haven’t completely recovered from that disappointment.

We, alas, haven’t given up our dream of seeing Willie in concert someday. However, we are fully aware that time may be running out, since Willie’s, frankly, not getting any younger.

We’ve already missed our chance to see Johnny Cash in concert, so we hope Willie will work out before it’s too late.

What artist do you have to see in concert before it’s too late?

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Sweet Spot

brad-paisley-chocolateIn the comment section of my recent Brad Paisley review of “Then”, Country Universe’s Kevin Coyne revealed that the last verse of “Waitin’ on A Woman” hit his sweet spot.

He said:

“I fell for “Waitin’ on a Woman” because of the last verse, where the man is in heaven waiting for her on the other side. That’s my sweet spot. Any song that hits that is golden with me, even if I’d normally dismiss the rest of the song as trite.”

I completely understood what he meant because there’s a certain theme that hits my sweet spot just about every time as well. For reasons that I cannot explain, since I’m not a pacivist as a rule, I love songs that appeal to the greater good in humankind–songs that promote love and peace. Songs like “Put A Little Love in Your Heart”, “Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream”, “We Shall Be Free”, “Let There Be Peace on Earth”, “What The World Needs Now Is Love”, “Worlds Apart”, etc. hit my sweet spot like no other kind of song can do. I’ll be the first to admit that such songs can easily be considered trite, corny, and overwrought, you name it. I still love them; I just can’t help it.

So, what song topic either voluntarily or involuntarily hits your sweet spot?

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Giveaway: Dan Milliken’s Entire CD Collection

HAPPY APRIL FOOLS’!

But wouldn’t it have been nice? I do have a lot of great digipaks and all.

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Bargain Hunter: Dolly Parton (Today Only)

Dolly Parton, The Grass is Blue$1.99

If you don’t like Dolly doing bluegrass…we can’t be friends.

Reviews:

All Music Guide (4.5/5 stars)

Downloading Instructions:

Click on the big “Play” symbol to play the clips. When they start playing, a little box with information about the track will appear at the bottom of the box. Click where it says the album’s name (The Grass is Blue) to reach the full album. Alternatively, you can click the yellow “Buy MP3″ button to go to the page of the individual song that’s playing, from which you can also reach the full album’s page.

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