Emotionally driven and musically diverse, Greensky Bluegrass’s newest studio effort, If Sorrows Swim, defines the group’s growth going into their 15th year. This intense collection of road-tested and unheard originals aims to capture the quintets dynamic, contrasting stage sound.
Targeting a more concise sound than previous albums, If Sorrows Swim, does exactly that. The album opens with Paul Hoffman’s (mandolin/vocals), “Windshield”. Strong, yet desperate, Hoffman’s vocals grow intense and dramatic, bringing an immediate sense of emotional release to the album. Impassioned rhythmic interplay between Mike Bont (banjo) and Dave Bruzza (guitar/vocals) immediately engage the listener as bass player, Michael Devol, adds light bass lines to the mix.
“In Control” displays the bands ability to weave intricate layers of sound. The albums MVP’s, Michael Bont (banjo/vocals) and Anders Beck (dobro), create delicate, yet fiery lines that gives Hoffman’s ballad a powerful texture that doesn’t quite exist on earlier albums.
What stands out the most on this album is the extreme attention to detail compared to their previous releases. If Sorrows Swim captures some of Hoffman’s and Bruzza’s best songwriting, as well as the band’s meticulous interplay. While the album loses a little steam over the twelve tracks, “Leap Year” brings back an energy that features a Garcia/Grisman inspired sound. Reaching past the five-minute mark, the tracks dramatic instrumental exchanges make this the improvisational cut on the album.
While putting out what could be their best studio album, If Sorrows Swim still falls somewhat short of recreating their intoxicating and energized stage sound.
Key Tracks: Forget Everything, Leap Year, Windshield