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Published: 2016/10/21
by Larson Sutton

Greensky Bluegrass
Shouted, Written Down and Quoted

Among the variety of charms on Shouted, Written Down and Quoted is the middle ground it occupies between loose-fitting jams and tight orchestration. The spaces between vocal lines often contain thoughtful little riffs; worked out lines of mandolin, guitar, and dobro that slow the otherwise bouncy bluegrass just enough to grab the ears as they move the feet. It’s a touch that separates not only much of the record from typical bluegrass fare, but also signifies the stylistic differences of Greensky Bluegrass from some of their peers. The album is two sides of the same coin: a study in rhythms without a single percussive instrument, acoustic tones that can as quickly turn electrified, collective strumming that breaks off into cascades of single notes. It’s a pretty record, as well, with impassioned voices telling stories of yearning and hope offset by sorrow and caution; a cool running stream one moment, rapids the next. Exemplified on “Run or Die,” shaded with brief spots of echo and the pace of a getaway car, it pushes the narrative darkly, as does “More of Me,” and its ominously long fade-out. The finale, “Take Cover,” could’ve opened the album just as appropriately as closed it, with a full complement of fleet-fingered solos and a warning of what’s to come. If there is a track summing up the dualism it may be “Past My Prime,” suggesting a missed opportunity, a regret of one’s chance to be someone special has passed, that ultimately plays as irony. The moment hasn’t passed for Greensky Bluegrass. It’s here, and it is something special.

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