Though mandolinist, singer, and songwriter Billy Swinson has roots in Eastern North Carolina, he’s lived the last twenty years in Florida performing with several regional acts. Swinson’s solo effort, Greener Grass, combines his original music alongside some of bluegrass music’s most prominent talent.
Eight of the ten tracks on Greener Grass were written by Swinson. The title track, sung by Jason Owen, tells a story about a man with a Jekyll and Hyde demeanor. Along with Billy Swinson on mandolin, this song also includes Randy Kohrs on resophonic guitar and harmony vocals, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes on fiddle, Scott Vestal on banjo, Aubrey King on guitar, and Evan Winsor on bass.
Blame It On Me is rooted in traditional stylings, and tells a classic story of one attempting to mend fences with their romantic partner. Other tracks in this vein are Lonesome Day and Are You Missing Me. Both songs have been recorded by numerous artists over the years, yet Billy performs them in such a way that brings a sense of vitality. This is best illustrated in the former track which features phenomenal lead guitar from Shaun Richardson.
CPR is one of two instrumental tracks on this recording. This piece sounds like it could have been influenced by David Grisman and demonstrates Swinson’s clean mandolin tone and flawless execution. The other tune Billy’s Bounce gives some of the other instrumentalists a chance to shine. Along with smooth lead guitar from Aubrey King, this track also includes great work from Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, Scott Vestal, as well as Eric Thompson on harmonica and Curtis Vestal on electric bass.
Pieces is a song that tells of a man determined to stay with the woman he loves. With minimalist instrumental backing from Kohrs, Keith-Hynes, King, and Winsor, it allows the listener to soak in the story that Swinson is telling through his lyrics.
Greener Grass not only displays Billy Swinson’s compositional talents, but also shows his talents for picking the group of instrumentalists that best match his musical vision.