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Mustered Courage - Powerlines




I never cared much for bluegrass music; it seemed to me just amusing, stirring comical flashbacks to Beverly Hillbillies, and the Blues Brothers giving it a crack. I only came to take it seriously once I saw Old Crow Medicine Show perform by chance – the speed, precision and skill that came with the style, and the hoe down it created were simply brilliant. Lucky then, that I happened upon Melbourne’s Mustered Courage as a support act in Northcote last year. There was an instant liking to the band, which upon multiple gigs became a real love. These guys know how to use their instruments, both stringed and vocal, and will roar through jams with serious talent, while showing a great breadth of variety in their song writing, too.

There’s not a dud track on Powerlines, the second release for the local four piece, with each of the 12 tunes providing its own personality. There’s the sentimental ballad ‘My Hometown’ and stripped back vocal performance of ‘Towin’ the Chain’, countered by the raucous ‘Go to Hell’ and banjo racing instrumental, ‘Allegheny’; while ‘Southern Style’ is old timey, lyrically taking things back to the style’s musical heartland, as does ‘Old Steam Train’, even more blatantly as it opens with, “Wanna ride on an old steam train: Tennessee down to New Orleans.” And let me tell you, you’ll want to be joining them.

Having focussed on their live show predominantly over the last couple of years, Powerlines is a welcome addition to the recorded catalogue of Mustered Courage, and is the kind of album that only grows on you with every listen. Most importantly, it bears a real feeling of positivity and is exceptionally easy to warm to. There a foot stopping guitar riffs, heartfelt ballads and even the odd spot of a capella thrown in, showing that bluegrass (which is the genre of the band at its core) is way more than some might have thought. That nerdy cousin of the guitar, the banjo, who has risen in the social ranks of musical instruments recently (thanks, Mumford and Sons) leaves a big impression on the album, too, with its super-tempo proving a real marvel of finger picking skill – there’s a reason the gentleman on the album’s cover boasts a mechanical arm.

By having the song writing, variety and skilful instrumentation all come together so neatly, Mustered Courage prove themselves a genuine treat, who will surely keep on riding high. If you want to explore something not too many local acts are attempting, Powerlines is certainly the place a good place to start.


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