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Finnders & Youngberg

Eat the Moon – 2015 (Swing Fingers)

Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh

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To the casual fan, much of bluegrass sounds the same. The requisite banjo, fiddle and mandolin always seem to be on hand, usually accompanied by an oftentimes "acquired taste" of nasally vocals. Yet, for those willing to dig deeper, there is a deep well of influence and creativity within this mountain music, and Finnders & Youngberg are among those showcasing the genre's great diversity on on "Eat the Moon," combining native Appalachian elements together with country and folk to carve out their own distinctive niche.

FY5 is fronted by lead singer Mike Finders, whose passionate vocals lead the way, accompanied by female vocalist Erin Youngberg who shines as well. Aaron Youngberg carries a lion's share of the work, managing a plucky banjo duty as well as pedal steel, while Rich Zimmerman delivers on mandolin, followed along by the warm fiddle fills of Ryan Drickey. With years of gigging behind them, this Colorado collective wears their traditions proudly and delivers a solid set of songs.

"She Wants to Eat the Moon" is a warm opening track, Erin's solid delivery matched by an easygoing arrangement that highlights Drickey's great fiddle work while "Desert Bluebell" ripples with classic bluegrass energy as Finders delivers a gritty, slightly unpolished vocal that gives it an extra dose of accessibility. A touch of honky tonk country shines on "Back Door," playful harmonies holding sway before giving way to plenty of Aaron's able banjo and Erin's sweet singing.

"Old Dog Waltz" is a fine showcase for Zimmerman's mandolin skills, setting the table for a warm instrumental, followed by the rippling energy of "After Tonight," Finders and Youngberg's voices blending with ease and recalling the great duets of the past. Country-flavored barroom weeper "Watch Out for the Blues," steps in with plenty of mournful pedal steel while "What Did I Do" will delight fans of great pickin' and grinnin' bluegrass. A moody sonic texture colors "Saint Vrain," the acoustic instruments rippling with a sense of expectation and energy while Finder's vocals croon through before the collective closes things out with the playful sing-along "Mama's Cookin'."

Finnders & Youngberg showcase everything a diehard bluegrass would want to find. Great picking, warm vocals, and heartfelt deliveries fill each track here but they also showcase a sense of creativity and musical exploration, while always careful to honor the music's rich tradition.