Since their formation in 2015, the Norwegian based Strengeplukk has grown to be an acclaimed and steadily active ensemble in the Scandinavian bluegrass community. Their third studio release, Nålauget, not only demonstrates their prowess as singers and players, but also their depth and understanding of bluegrass music.
The group consists of Andreas Barsnes Onarheim on mandolin, Nikolai Storevik on fiddle, Thorbjørn André Bilstad Olsen on banjo, Jakob Folke Ossum on guitar, and Vidar Starheimseter on bass. All five members take part in the vocal duties. Listeners will quickly notice how tight and cohesive the group’s harmonies are.
Although each of the nine tracks are sung in the band’s native Norwegian language, there’s absolutely no denying the feeling and energy Strengeplukk puts into each of the songs. The opening track, Bonde, packs an immediate punch with a captivating banjo kickoff from Olsen.
The title track, Nålauget, is a much softer piece which spotlights the smooth lead vocals and clean mandolin playing of Andreas Barnes Onarheim. While Onarheim does sing lead on Skjermen, this song demonstrates the band’s traditional bluegrass sensibility.
Reise dit trea grør tett may remind listeners of the Bill Monroe classic, Toy Heart, as the melody shares a striking similarity. Featured on lead vocals is Nikolai Storevik.
Du likar det is by far the most driving track on this recording. This song is another fine example of Strengelekk’s ability to play and sing bluegrass in a reverent manner.
Nålauget is an intriguing project, not just because of where the band is from or what language the material is in. It’s obvious that Strengeplukk has a keen understanding of bluegrass music. By the same coin they’re capable of crafting uniquely original material in that idiom. Even though the majority of American listeners may not understand the words the band is singing, there’s no question we can all understand the sincerity and emotion they apply to each and every track.