A Voice That Runs Deep
Sometimes CDs just fall into my lap and find a nice home in me, as if they were meant to. I first heard the Greencards on Louisville's musical Mecca, WFPK 91.9; I believe it was Scott Mullins filling in for one of his fellow DJs. The song I heard that day was quite touching, but I may have forgotten about this band entirely if I hadn't heard - later that same day - that it would be opening for Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson at Slugger Field. Then, still on the same day, I saw the Greencards' CD Weather and Water in the sale bin at ear X-tacy and I just couldn't ignore the coincidences. So I bought it and I really haven't regretted it one bit.
The Greencards could be described as a less-hyped little sibling of sorts to better known acts like Nickel Creek. The simple combination of mandolin, bass and fiddle create some beautiful bluegrass, which is topped by the solo singing and harmonies of all three instrumentalists: Kim Warner, Eamon McLoughlin and Carol Young. Lyrics about life such as "The mornin' sun, will rise in the sky / When the day is done, down comes the night / Roses they grow, so pretty so high / Next thing you know, they wilt and they die" are backed by some guest guitars and simple percussion for rhythm. As the instruments and voices cry against each other, the deep voice of ancient music and feelings peeks through.
One of the things the Greencards do best, then, is to show the depths of bluegrass really well, see-sawing between a Texas country and an Irish folk ballad style. The songs are mostly laid back storytelling by Warner and are quietly soothing. You have to be ready for the long haul, though, as the line walking between contemporary and traditional bluegrass sound can take some getting used to and the instrumentals are viciously fast and hard to follow. Still, songs like the introspective title track and the deeply narrative "Ballad of Kitty Brown," really make the album quite worth it.