How many bluegrass bands were started in Austin, Texas by an Englishman and two Australians? I know of at least one group with that unusual pedigree.
Eamon McLoughlin met Australians Kym Warner and Carol Young in 2003. Since all three carried United States green cards at the time, they decided to use that fact as the basis for their new band’s name. Several albums and two Grammy nominations, for Best Country Instrumental, quickly followed. McLaughlin departed in 2009 and the band regrouped by adding two new members.
The Greencards now consist of vocalist/bassist Carol Young, vocalist/mandolin player Kym Weston, fiddle player Tyler Andal, and 1999 National Flatpicking Guitar Champion Carl Minor.
In just about a month from now, they will release their latest effort, The Brick Album. It continues their tradition of what can best be described as progressive bluegrass. The harmonies and the acoustic guitar, fiddle, and mandolin are all in place, and the musicianship is excellent. They depart from what can be considered classic bluegrass by incorporating elements of folk, rock, and even some Latin rhythms.
The first track, “Make It Out West,” features guest artist Sam Bush, who plays a slide mandolin, which gives the song a unique sound. The lyrics take the listener to the old west and endless horizons. Also interesting is “Heart Fixer,” a south of the border influenced vocal duet between Carol Young and guest Vince Gill, who brings his guitar along for good measure.
There are a number of other interesting highlights. “Tale Of Kangario” has some of the best guitar and mandolin interaction that I have heard in a long time. “Faded” contains sophisticated, tight harmonies. “Adelaide” is pure bluegrass as its instruments — both solo and together — run the gamut of tempo changes yet remain true to the melody.
Now located in Nashville, The Greencards have established themselves as one of the better and more successful bluegrass bands working today. They have toured with the likes of Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan, and are a popular concert attraction on their own. Their releases have constantly charted high on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart.
The Brick Album continues their run of producing fine, modernized bluegrass albums. It should please their old fans and earn them some new ones as well.