Greener Grass by Billy Swinson contains eight original songs and covers of two classics.
Mississippi Chris Sharp
CD: Greener Grass
Artist: Billy Swinson
Artist Website: https://themostinterestingmaninmusic.com/
Mandolinist, singer, and songwriter Billy Swinson has blessed us with a superb listening experience with his CD release Greener Grass. It contains eight original songs and covers of two classics and is well done all the way through.
Swinson cobbled together a superb band to assist him: Randy Kohrs, resophonic guitars; Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, fiddle; Scott Vestal, banjo; Aubrey King and Shaun Richardson, acoustic guitar; Evan Winson, upright bass; Curtis Vestal, electric bass; Eric Thompson on harmonica on one track; and Jason Owen on lead vocals on the title cut.
The songs are:
1. Greener Grass
2. Damned Ole Hurricane
3. Blame it on Me
4. Deeper than the Sea
7. Lonesome Day
8. Billy's Bounce
9. Are You Missing Me
10. Thank You, Dear Lord
“Lonesome Day” is an A.P. Carter song, and “Are You Missing Me” is by the Louvin Brothers, and later a hit for Jim & Jesse. Both were done extremely well, and that is the extent of the covers. The rest of the songs are Swinson's. If one is going to make a mark, they'll have to do so by being bold enough to write, arrange, and deliver good, fresh, new music. Swinson is that bold.
My favorites are: “Greener Grass”, a song with dark, dark lyrics mixed with upbeat music, which is an interesting juxtaposition, “Damned Ole Hurricane,” which tells the story of a farm blown to kingdom come by a damned ole hurricane. Lyrics paint a picture that those of us who live in hurricane land know very well. A segment of the song borrows a bit from “Cluck Old Hen” that readily calls up the chaos of hurricane winds; “Blame it on Me” about the trials and tribulations of the demands of the workplace; “Pieces,” an instrumental that I can't decide is primarily influenced by Newgrass or Dawg-grass. It could be both. I sure like it; and perhaps my favorite song on the CD, “Billy's Bounce,” which is an instrumental grabbed from an alternate universe, as if the DC Comics character, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Superman's nemesis, hummed his own version of “Fisher's Hornpipe” into Swinson's ear. It is not only good, it is fun! I don't hear many instrumentals in new music. I want more, particularly more as distinctive and refreshing as “Billy's Bounce.” “Thank You Dear Lord” is the perfect ending song, and I declare I hear a National Tri-Cone on it. Is that Randy Kohrs? I sure like it. Six out of ten is a good average.
I must mention Bronwyn Keith-Hynes and her fiddle. This is not the first time I have enjoyed her contributions on an album. And Scott Vestal's banjo work all the way through the CD is subdued but absolutely in the pocket, dripping with tone, timing, and timbre. I could only hear special guest Eric Thompson's harmonica on one song, “Billy's Bounce”, and it rhythmically added just what I think the song needed. The best musicians always add what the song needs. And Swinson's nod to the cross-picking mandolin style of the recently departed Jesse McReynolds on “Are You Missing Me” was a nice touch.
I liked this CD from start to finish. It'll stay in my rotation for quite a while.