The members of The Greencards are 50% Australian, 50% American but the music they make is 100% newgrass. It’s the band itself that call their style “newgrass” and, in my opinion, they have created a mix of bluegrass and folk with americana and modern outlawish country in the same landscape as Australian Kasey Chambers. And being a fan of Kasey Chambers, the similarities in sound is what initially drew me to this album.
Carol Young (vocals) and Kym Warner (bass) from Australia are in cahoots with the fiddle-playing Tyler Andal from Tennessee and string virtuoso Carl Miner on their fifth album, The Brick Album. It’s produced by Justin Niebank, who has produced, mixed or engineered an enormous amount of a lot of mainstream country, but also a lot of good shit like Jason & The Scorchers, John Mellencamp and Todd Snider.Thankfully he’s focused on keeping The Greencards own musical identity, giving them a sound that would be to the taste of fans of bluegrass as well as people enjoying low-fi country-folk with a touch of irish folk, complete with rockin’ mandolins and lively fiddle playing.
The cover of the album is really ugly, but don’t let that put you off from lending your ears to this band. They tour extensively, and that’s evident from their tight sound. They played support-gigs for guys like Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson as early as 2003.
Carol Young has a unique voice, and sings in a way that reminds you of a mix of Kasey Chambers and Natalie Merchant, and her very musical band mates lay down the sound of the strings in several respectable layers under and around her vocals – building a flowing mood and a sound that makes you want to just sit listening and enjoying the music.
Being a sucker for good lyrics can sometimes be a problem, but the soundscape makes me forget that – and the lyrics just aren’t the most important part of this album. Not that they are weak in any way, it’s just the fact that the mood has the focus, and you tend to sit enjoying that instead of diving into the lyrics. I’m not saying this album is perfect in any way, it’s got it’s boring parts too – but the good songs are so good it really outweighs the boring stuff. And again, it’s something about the mood that gets to me. Even the fact that Vince Gill appears on one song is made acceptable by the pure charm of this band.