You have to admire a band like Serene Green. They find contentment in extolling the virtues of traditional bluegrass, paying no heed to whether or not they actually adhere to modern mores. The Pennsylvania-based quartet, consisting of Quentin Fisher (mandolin), Michael Johnson (guitar), Shane McGeehan (bass), and Steve Leonard (banjo), are a lithe and lively bunch whose sole intent seems to be to lift the spirits of everyone involved, and emphasize the joyful designs that bluegrass music has always embraced.
That sound’s served them well, given the fact that they’ve performed at any number of prestigious festivals, including DelFest, where they received honors as “Best New Artist.” They’ve also kept company on tour with likes of The Seldom Scene, David Bromberg, Railroad Earth, Sideline, and Della Mae. So while the band’s found affirmation in association, they’ve more than held their own courtesy of their unabashed enthusiasm for replicating sounds of a vintage variety
Have At It, the collective’s sophomore set, expresses the sheer exhilaration they find in picking, strumming and sharing simple, old-time sentiments. With the majority of songs written by the band members themselves, it’s the upbeat entries that stand out — the euphoric Later in the Evening, the giddy tones of Hop Bottom, the wry (I Finally Can’t Stand) The Thought of You, and the album’s trio of rollicking instrumentals Haywood, Have It All, and Malicia.
A handful of songs temper those more effusive emotions through a more homespun sound, none more so that their mournful take on James Taylor’s Bartender’s Blues, easily the most subdued song in the set.
You also have to give credit to a band that puts their mascot, a dog named Watson, on the album’s front cover, and then share their affection for their canine companion in the liner notes. Indeed, they liken the joy their furry friend feels while chasing his ball to the feelings they attempt to share themselves. “We try to carry that same spirit in our music,” the liner notes declare.
Indeed, it’s hard not to admire an outfit that finds inspiration in a perky pet. Consider Have At It an invitation that’s all but impossible to resist.