BY MICHAEL BERICK
The Greencards are far from greenhorns in the Americana/bluegrass worlds. Since releasing their first album in 2004, the trio (now consisting of the Australian-born co-founders multi-instrumentalist Kym Warner and bassist Carol Young plus Oregon-bred guitarist Carl Miner) has developed a strong enough following to crowd-fund their last album (2011’s The Brick Album); however, broader success has remained elusive. Sweetheart of the Sun, in its own soft-spoken way, should draw newcomers to their flock. There’s a bucolic beauty to their acoustic-based sound that should appeal to fans of Lady Antebellum and Nickel Creek (with the Greencards being less poppy than the former and more than the later).
The band weaves a water theme through the album. More than just appearing in the song lyrics, water gets reflected in the music itself. There’s a shimmery, glistening quality to the Greencards’ sound. The mainly acoustic album is filled with subtle touches from an array of instruments – from bouzouki and ukulele to pedal steel and violin – that create a sound that is smooth yet with real depth. “Ocean Floor,” for instance, holds an echo-y, gauzy sound similar to floating on water. Young, who handles most of the lead singing, glides over the music with her crystalline voice. On the opening track “Once and Gone,” her vocals literally rolls in like a gentle wave and throughout the album her singing conveys a sense of tranquility and warmth.
The album, which features several instrumental interludes, flows effortlessly from track to track, taking the listener on a peaceful, yet rejuvenating musical journey. The understated, easy-going music lingers in your memory, with “Forever Mine” and “Traveler’s Song” standing out as two particularly strong tracks. The more uptempo “Wide Eyed Immigrant” offers a nice change-of-pace and you can also pick up an Australian country cadence, which brings to mind Paul Kelly. “Boxcar Boys” features an evocative Spanish guitar while Warner and Young’s singing recalls the sophisticated pop of Marti Jones’ work with Don Dixon.
The closing track “Fly” nicely summaries the many strengths of Sweetheart of the Sun. The song features some nifty but not flashy playing while Young’s vocals soar gracefully and inspiringly. Sounding comfortable and confident, the Greencards have created a lovely acoustic album, full of alluring, quiet moments, that is joy to listen to.
DOWNLOAD: “Ocean Floor,” “Forever Mine”