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ALBUM REVIEW: Greensky Bluegrass – If Sorrows Swim


“It’s not enough to feel it, it needs to overwhelm you…” is the opening line to the ninth song on Greensky Bluegrass’ newest LP If Sorrows Swim.

Over the last few years Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers and The Lumineers carved out a large chunk of the mainstream and opened their eyes to bluegrass, folk and country-tinged rock. I feel like it was a meeting point of the indie, country and jam worlds coming together via festivals to enjoy these sounds that made them explode in popularity.

Greensky Bluegrass, a band that has enjoyed success in the jam and bluegrass scenes over the past few years, would stand on their own feet without the aforementioned artists. They get a little more spacey, follow the two-set show format and cover Phish, so it’s no wonder hippies love this band just as much as a farmer’s son would.

With If Sorrows Swim, the group isn’t reinventing the wheel entirely, but definitely putting their own spin on it (no pun intended). The opening tune “Windshield” is an emotional one that proves the band is capable of writing amazing songs just as well as they are cultivating intriguing jams. “Burn Them” follows it up, keeps the emotion, but fires up the tempo that has made Greensky a staple in the jam scene.

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The album’s theme appears clear after the first half. This is a band that is equally in touch with traditional bluegrass as they are with their new brand of jamgrass. The tunes alternate between tempos as the band puts a contemporary spin on vintage American mountain music.

“Forget Everything” speaks to reconciling a broken relationship. It speaks to Small-town, USA where seeing your ex isn’t just a possibility, but a sure shot.

“Demons” and “Leap Year” are angsty tunes that sandwich the more laid-back traveler’s song called “Wings for Wheels.” The cycle of fast and slow, spacey and traditional rang true through the end of the album, all within that signature Greensky Bluegrass style.

The album ends with “Just Listening,” perhaps the most traditional sounding bluegrass tune on the entire album. It is an ode to the Bill Monroe’s and the Del McCoury’s of this world. It ends quickly, as the traditional tunes usually did, before going in to a reprise “Windshields” jam. The album is complete, and it is damn-near perfect.

Greensky Bluegrass will play NYC this Saturday along with Suwannee Hulaween come October 31st.

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