It’s fortunate that G-Runs ’N Roses are as clever about making music as they were when coming up with their handle. On first glance, however, the branding might be misleading. In truth, there was never any cause for mistaken identity. For starters, they’re nothing like the hardcore combo from whom they practically nicked the name. An amiable and upbeat band based in the Czech Republic, their devotion to bluegrass is unyielding, and the proof of that fact is reflected both in their live performances and the two albums they’ve recorded over the 15 years since the band originally formed. So while they don’t necessarily maintain any sort of prolific prowess in that regard, the music they do share more than makes up for their somewhat scanty output.
In fact, it’s hard to fault this band for anything at all, especially when it comes to the quality of what they have released thus far. Indeed, the exacting evidence can be found in Gravity, the band’s well-received sophomore set. An excellent compendium of original songs as well as some well-chosen covers, it boast a seamless synchronicity throughout. Even the more familiar fare — including reboots of Simon and Garfunkel’s Leaves That Are Green and the Flying Burrito Brothers Hot Burrito #1 — take on a new and distinctive tone and treatment under their aegis. Likewise, the two Gordon Lightfoot songs, which run back-to-back no less, show a great degree of variation — from the quiet contemplative take on The Circle Is Small to the upbeat jubilation of Redwood Hill.
The songs that accompany those numbers are similarly inspired — as reflected in the facile finesse of their sped up version of Randy Travis’ Deeper Than the Holler, the mellow musings of Keith Whitley’s Miami, My Amy, the casual caress of the supple instrumental Misfire, and the assured stride that accompanies I’ll Be There. The musicians — Ralph Schut (banjo, guitar, vocals), Martin Burza (fiddle, vocals), Tomas Kubin (acoustic bass), Milan Marek (mandolin, harmonies), and Odra Kozak (guitar, fiddle, vocals) — are effortlessly expressive, making music with a natural ease that ensures both cohesion and credence. While they may not be as well known in the States, the rousing original offerings such as the title track and Thank You For Your Trouble demonstrate the fact that their drive and dexterity are second to none.
Ultimately, G-Runs ’N Roses prove themselves to be one of the more astute bluegrass outfits in all of the European environs, and further proof of the fact that the love of this music extends well beyond an Appalachian embarkation point. Gravity certainly has its gravitas, and one can only hope a successor to this wonderful record won’t be long in coming.