Album Reviews: Finnders & Youngberg, Jeremy Fisher and Chase Gassaway
Finnders & Youngberg – I Don’t Want Love You Won’t Give Until I Cry
Finnders & Youngberg’s debut EP, I Don’t Want Love You Won’t Give Until I Cry sees the solid bluegrass quintet delivery six songs of banjo, pedal steel and fiddle inflected music of the sort that can quickly become an addiction if your taste in music runs to the twang.
From the disc’s opening track Diner to the closer Girl From the North Fork Valley there’s much to like. Hailing from Fort Collins, Colorado—where the plains begin to roll gently into the foothills of the Rock Mountains—Mike Finnders’ vocals have just the right amount of country twang to be pleasing. It’s frequently paired with Erin Youngberg here and that’s a good thing—the variety and mix it brings to the songs is charming. All those vocals sit on top of solid fiddle and banjo work.
This collection is doing more than just giving Neko Case a fight for the longest album title in recent memory: it’s really good stuff, and if there’s anything to be disappointed about it’s the EP’s six track length—every time I put this on, I find myself wanting just a few more songs. It’s a tease, this one, and I suspect this will be a perfect part of my mix for an upcoming road trip to California.
Jeremy Fisher – Live at Catherine North
Jeremy Fisher is young Canadian singer-songwriter with a long history of unconventional touring. In 2002, he strapped his guitar to a bicycle and pedaled from Seattle to Halifax on tour. That’s a pretty impressive feat even unencumbered by the gear.
Fisher’s a great songwriter too, and he’s released his Live at Catherine North album as a free download from Noisetrade.If you’ve never head him before, it’s a fantastic opportunity to get a sense of the man and his music. The album does a great job of showcasing some of his better known material like Cigarette and Scar That Never Heals (She Runs Guns) all recorded live at Hamilton, Ontario’s Catherine North Studios.
As a live album it does a fantastic job of highlighting he music and the personality: the moments of humour and audience interaction here are great, and typical of seeing him live at a solo show. The set moves seamlessly from song to song with Fisher chatting amicably in between. It’s a charming stage presence.
If the album sells Fisher short in any way it’s only by not showcasing one of his greatest talents: Fisher is the kind of musician who shines in collaborative environments. He’ll easily raise the caliber of any artist to a higher level by working with them, and it would have been nice to capture some of those collaborations. We can always hope for the future.
That aside, this is as fine an introduction to Fisher’s work as you’ll find and you can download it for free. Make sure when you do you keep an eye out for live dates in your area: Fisher is one of those performers you should never miss when he rolls around—especially if he does it on two wheels. I look forward to it every time.
Chase Gassaway – Certain Circles
If Finnders & Youngberg’s EP release does a fantastic job of presenting fresh sounding traditional bluegrass, Chase Gassaway takes that sound and updates it with a modern, more heavily produced twist. There’s more a bass line and drum driven rhythm to this album, but it’s got the same sense of authenticity at it’s core that that Finnders & Youngberg do.
The eleven songs that make up Certain Circles are a diverse set. From the modern indie-rock sound of the violin on Bright Shiny Day to the down tempo Fast Machines there’s a solid sound here. Gassaway is obviously a craftsman trying on various hats: Out of Hand would be as at home blasting out of the speakers of on a summer drive through the 70s as it would be today, while Prove is infused with flamenco elements that feel right at home.
That diversity of styles rewards the listener with an album that sounds fresh from beginning to end and produces the kind of album that would suit sitting on the patio on a summer night with friends, laughing into the late evening sunset.