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Bluegrass Voice - Jussi Syren & The Groundbreakers.

Released Spring 2023 Reviewed 20 June 2023 Genre Bluegrass.

Who's in the band • Jussi Syren: mandolin, voice • J.P. Putkonen: gutiar, voice • Tauri Oksala: banjo, voice • Tero Mäenpää: contra bass, voice

The album cover is a drawing of Jussi and his mandolin.

Review As you can guess by his name, Jussi is from Finland. It is a 4 piece with all the ingredients of bluegrass music, at least to my understanding. And what is that? The 5 string banjo of course and the mandolin and the Contra bass. Maybe you expect a fiddle too, and it is on the record even it is not listed in the band list as standard. Another ingredient is the whole note step down in a bluegrass song, from G to F for example, listen to the trad song Little Maggie and you hear it directly, it is in here too. This is not the first album with Jussi doing bluegrass, but I remember some rockabilly tracks like 20 years ago too. This album is on Spotify and you can find the older ones there too. Another thing you think of is the voice style, bluegrass always sound high pitched and blue. Also, I am always worried when people from Finland is going to sing cos of the dialect. But Jussi do a good job, you won’t be bothered. Next that I think of is the sound in general, many cuts from Finland are very good old school but has a bit too much low bass frequencies. But this record is modern, and very polished. The only criticism is that it is a bit too polished. The album from 2019 called Bluegrass headquarters has a different sound and there they are spot on if you like the old school sound. I guess this new one has a broader audience.

So what do I know about bluegrass? Tip of the ice berg I must say, mostly just the trad stuff. I can play foggy mountain breakdown on a 5 string and cripple creek if I make an effort… And I have attended 20 blue grass jams in Uppsala playing contra bass, so I know how advanced this is at least. Jussi and the band are just as good as you can imagine. The fun thing with bluegrass bands doing covers is that it is going to be completely different and fun to listen to. One on my favourite songs to play on the guitar is covered on this album, Norwegian wood by the Beatles. And the Banjo sounds so cool doing the riff, great cover. Another cover is Morning has broken, the Cat Stevens hit. It has the same effect, waltz and bluegrass make you smile. Strokin’ down is my favourite tune I think, it is a bit rock n roll in the groove. One step closer is a fast track with banjo picking, but the whole album variates in tempo. Summary High quality bluegrass all in all. Bjorn Hellman



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