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Music Review: The Greencards – ‘Sweetheart of the Sun’

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A decade ago, transplanted Australians Kym Warner (mandolin) and Carol Young (bass and vocals) found themselves in Austin, Texas, where they met English fiddler Eamon McLoughlin. The result of that meeting was the formation of one of the underappreciated gems of the American music scene. Their newest album, Sweetheart of the Sun. will be released next month.

The Greencards may not have been formed by Americans but they play a distinct brand of American music. They can best be described as a progressive bluegrass band. Their music may mix in some folk and rock but it is firmly rooted in American bluegrass traditions. The lyrics at times take it all in an Americana direction but it all works out to a blend that has been labeled newgrass.

Ten years after their formation, Warner and Young remain the core of the band. Guitarist Carl Minor is now the third permanent member. They use a rotating cast of musicians to create the sound in the recording studio, plus they use a pedal steel guitar for the first time here.

Their latest album finds the band moving in some new directions. Their early releases had a jam-like feel. Now they’re more sophisticated as they have honed their sound so that it has a polish and even a sonic quality at times. The use of additional musicians gives the band a much fuller sound than in the past, yet one can still discern the acoustic guitar, mandolin, and bass foundation, which is probably how the music will be presented on stage.

The new music also has an underlying concept as it explores their connections to water and movement. It is an album that evokes a mood as the songs build upon one another.  It is one of those releases that needs to be listened to in its entirely, as the whole is better and certainly more complete than the parts. Songs such as “Black, Black Water,” “Paddle the Torrens,” “Ocean Floor,” “Midnight Ferry,” and “Fly” create an ambiance that will take the listener on a journey through their world.

Sweetheart of the Sun was an ambitious project for the Greencards and they were able to bring their vision to fruition. It is an album that shows their growth as a band and is well worth a listen.

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