Mustered Courage, a quartet from Canberra, Australia (with a member from Texas), making awesome bluegrass music. These guys are taking Australia by storm and recently released their newest album, Powerlines, in the US. These guys are making Americana better than most Americans and they’re starting a tour in the US to make sure you know that.
The 13 songs on this album show that these guys have the capabilities to make about any kind of bluegrass you could imagine, fast, slow, country, poppy, they can do it all. With four unbelievably talented musicians and one incredibly gifted vocalist, Powerlines will most definitely be featured on some end of the year lists as one of the most complete albums of 2014. From the first note to the last, these guys are showing that bluegrass doesn’t have to come from North American to be outstanding.
“Standing By Your Side” kicks off the album and it’s a perfect introduction to the band. These guys have a gift for making a style of music that can be grating to some people sound sweet and smooth. “Standing By Your Side” is a love song, one that sounds as beautifully musically as it’s written. It’s quickly followed by “Cruel Alibis”, a song that take a vastly different tone. With a first line like “Packing all my possessions, cause I’m leaving here tonight”, it’s clear that this song is about the sadness in leaving someone behind.
“Behind The Bullet” is a much grittier, quintessentially bluegrass song. It has a frontier like feel that goes perfectly with the style of music. The balance of this album is never more apparent than the transition from song to song. After that gritty track, comes “Rosa,” a track that primarily features Kasey Chambers on vocals and had a decidedly country slant to it. It’s a beautiful switch from something darker to something more upbeat, if a little mournful anyway.
With some instrumental tracks that are flawlessly done, the other highlights of the album include “Towin’ the Chain”, an incredible vocal only track, and “Southern Style,” another love song, banjo heavy this time and with beautiful harmonies. The former is an amazing arrangement that shows the versatility of these guys and is the one song I’m most looking forward to seeing live.
Mustered Courage has changed how I feel about bluegrass and Americana music world-wide. These guys are taking something ingrained in the history of our country and reinterpreting it. It’s familiar, but different, a feat that’s not easily achieved. Do yourself a favor and give these guys a listen, you won’t question Australian bluegrass again.