The Iceland Sessions – Greensky Bluegrass

Greensky Bluegrass — Anders Beck (dobro), Michael Arlen Bont (banjo), Dave Bruzza (guitar), Mike Devol (upright bass), and Paul Hoffman (mandolin) — have always managed to keep their music moving forward, taking heed of bluegrass basics while tending to their populist appeal and progressive precepts. Their new EP for Thirty Tigers, aptly dubbed The Iceland Sessions, is no exception. Recorded at Flóki Studios in the summer of 2023, it preceded their first-ever series of shows at Reykjavik’s Harpa Concert Hall with their friend and fellow traveler Holly Bowling performing on piano.

Although the EP consists of only four songs, it finds the band as emphatic as ever, flush with emotion, resolve, and the stirring arrangements that have always been at the heart of the band’s stock and trade. Opening track Born Again is typically steadfast and assured, flush with intent, determination, and a riveting arrangement that finds each musician playing at peak form. Distracted belies its title, maintaining a decided drive that gives way to an extended instrumental interlude that has Bruzza’s guitar, Hoffman’s mandolin, and Bont’s banjo intertwining, and achieving an atmospheric effect through subtlety and nuance. Yet at the same time, it’s striking and stunning in terms of the overall effect. 

Entirely Mine maintains that personal perspective, resulting in a beautiful ballad that puts the emphasis on thought, feeling and reflection. The set winds up with Solstice, the most riveting track of the set in terms of tone and tempo. It conveys an obvious urgency that finds each of the musicians —  Bowling included — operating at full throttle, and a degree of abject intensity, courtesy of an extended instrumental exchange that elevates the momentum to maximum velocity. It’s easy to imagine that it will evolve into a live showstopper. 

While four songs may appear to make for an otherwise brief encounter, the drama and dynamic instilled throughout leaves a lingering impression. Credit Greensky Bluegrass with yet another towering triumph. 

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About the Author

Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman has been a writer and reviewer for the better part of the past 20 years. He writes for the following publications — No Depression, Goldmine, Country Standard TIme, Paste, Relix, Lincoln Center Spotlight, Fader, and Glide. A lifelong music obsessive and avid collector, he firmly believes that music provides the soundtrack for our lives and his reverence for the artists, performers and creative mind that go into creating their craft spurs his inspiration and motivation for every word hie writes.