Greensky Bluegrass – or short: GSBG – is active since 2000. They do a mixture of Americana, bluegrass and rock elements. Their 21st January 2022 release Stress Dreams is already their twelfth album publication. I had the opportunityf to listen into it.
Greensky Bluegrass – About The Artists
Greensky Bluegrass have been found in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a city quite right between Chicago and Detroit. Nowadays, they act as a quintet. The band members are Anders Beck (dobro), Michael Arlen Bont (banjo), Dave Bruzza (guitar), Mike Devol (bass) and Paul Hoffman (mandoline). They gained quite some reputation over the years. Their latest album, the 2019 All For Money has been on top of the US Bluegrass Album Charts.
Greensky Bluegrass – Stress Dreams – Track by Track
The thirteen track album lasts 67 minutes.
1. Absence of Reason
Absence of Reason takes the lead into this set of 13 songs. The song comes with beautiful melody lines, especially from the string instruments. Adding an easy-sounding vocal performance on it leads to a rather catching listen.
You can build a castle
But it crumbles to a cage
Funny how a monument
Looks just like a grave
Don’t know what you’re holding
When It’s right there in your hands
No matter where you’re going, where you’ve been
You might wind up where you began.
Monument is a slightly quicker, swinging track. I like the lyrics of this song. The bluegrass instrumentation is nonetheless leading to signature sound. Good one – maybe the instrumental part is a bit too long.
3. Until I Sing
Until I Sing is slower, even a bit more melancholic. Beautiful way to work with words in the lyrics, though: But I feel worthless without a purpose, until I sing for you. Ain’t that lovely? Nonetheless, I feel that this song is not as good as the first two ones.
4. Stress Dreams
If you wonder how GSBG can make thirteen songs last over an hour, the title track is the first musical reason for this: Stress Dreams is an eight minute song and thus not at all a compact mainstream recording. The song feels like it is relaxing, like it is taking time to tell the story. In addition, the band again allocate quite much time to emphasize their instrumental talent. I have to say that the song is well written and creates some rather surprising sounds, especially towards the end. But still, I feel this one could be a bit shorter, it almost feels like bluegrass jazz to me.
5. Give a Shit
Compared to the title track, Give a shit is a real shortie and just lasts five minutes. I like the sound of this song, which is coming with a lively, almost a bit of cheeky melody and a chorus, which quickly stays in your mind. Yeah, there will be the “Explicit lyrics” button, but who the f*ck cares? 😉
If I Were a street light, I’d stand all day work all night – I think that’s lyrics you can hardly argue against. This six and a half minute ditty feels to warble away a bit too much. It does not catch or entertain me too much. That’s a bit the pity about these kind of songs: if you like them, if the song catches you, you are having a great time. If not… It is over six minutes.
7. Worry for You
After the slow Streetlight, the hands of the band mates have to do much quicker movements on their music instruments again. Worry for You is one of my favorite tracks. Apart from the sounds of the track which simply makes you move and dance, one key factor is the lovely interaction between the different vocalists. Thumbs up.
8. Get Sad
There are not only long, epic songs on this album. Get Sad, for example, is shorter than three minutes. The style the instruments are played even remind me a bit of Iberian sounds. Not too deep, but a good listen.
9. Cut a Tooth
I don’t want to go through the pain – they say I need to
I just want to break the system that we’ve been chained to
I believe in the burden and the struggle to cut a tooth
But how many will lie to hide the truth
Even though bluegrass almost feels to be very light and easy to me – in fact, Greensky Bluegrass are also able to put clear and critical messages into this sound. The song is not bad at all. My key critics, though, is simply that the song feels a bit too long (again)
10. New & Improved
New & Improved is a six minute track, but it is rather entertaining and comes with a nice vibe. I enjoy the listen.
Screams, a song about being exhausted, has one of the best lyrics of the album to me. The song is beautifully arranged in a way that the attention of the listener focuses on that story – the result is a smile while listening to the song.
12. Grow Together
We can grow old together if we find the time – this song, which Hoffman wrote after the birth of his daughter, is another really beautiful song. Beautiful musical swear.
13. Reasons to Stay
Reasons to Stay comes with a very nice melody and is a beautiful closing of the album. There is even an almost funky part at the very end of the song. Nice.
Greensky Bluegrass – Stress Dreams – Spotify
Here is Stress Dreams on Spotify:
Greensky Bluegrass – Stress Dreams – My View
Greensky Bluegrass proof their great musical talent and virtuosity. Sometimes, unfortunately, the album feels to be a bit too much going into that direction. The songs get a bit too lengthy and the (no doubt: beautiful) instrumental parts feel like a new song and distract from the message. Greensky Bluegrass fans will love the album – if you haven’t listened to the band yet, though, you might likely enjoy and sometimes press the skip button in the middle of the track.
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