Review by Shannon Shumaker
While I haven’t listened to much bluegrass or country music lately, it’s not because I’m not into it – it’s just because I haven’t found anything that has really caught my attention. Mustered Courage, however, have definitely hooked me with their new album, Powerlines. It’s an album that grabs you tight from the gorgeous first lines of “Standing By Your Side” and doesn’t let go until the very last energetic and powerful note of “Still Shinin’.”
As a Colorado native, this album honestly just screams summer to me. Powerlines is perfect for long drives on hot summer days through the mountains, and it’s insane to think that Mustered Courage didn’t come from the deep Rockies, but instead hail from Australia. Their sound is just so universal that it’s something that someone like me, who doesn’t listen to much bluegrass, can get into, but also something that my mother, a die-hard old school country fan, would love. The album is a perfect mix of fast-paced, folk acts like The Avett Brothers and softer, mellow artists such as Nickel Creek. In fact, that is easily one of the coolest aspects about Powerlines – it’s really impressive when songs can go from slow, soft and mellow parts, straight into lightning-fast picking and crazy harmonies within seconds. It takes mountains of talent to be able to shoot from one end of the spectrum to the other so quickly, and Mustered Courage pull it off effortlessly, making Powerlines an adventure from start to finish.
Mustered Courage can really do just about anything. While the band kills it on their fast-paced, higher energy songs like “Go To Hell” or “Standing By Your Side,” the vocals really shine on the slower tracks on the album, where the band has a chance to showcase their incredible harmonies or belt out long, gorgeous notes. “Cruel Alibis” and “My Hometown” are great examples of each member’s amazing vocal abilities, and Mustered Courage really mellows out and strips down in both of these songs. Another great example of the awesome diversity on Powerlines is the a capella middle track, “Towin’ The Chain.” While I’m normally not one for a capella songs, the four-part harmonies on this song are absolutely phenomenal, making it impossible not to enjoy. And on the opposite end of the spectrum is the fast-paced instrumental track “Allegheny,” which comes right before “Towin’ The Chain,” and somehow Mustered Courage manage to pull of two songs that are completely different from one another with flying colors.
Another favorite track of mine on Powerlines is “Old Steam Train.” The vocals on this song, especially the harmonies, are insane and by the time the song comes to a close, I’m humming along with it. And to top it off, key change in the last minute of the song is just flawless. It’s so catchy that I actually had to replay it upon my first time listening to the album, because I couldn’t get enough. But to pick just one favorite song on Powerlines would be a crime. Every track on the album is strong in its own way and they all definitely carry their own weight. There just really isn’t one weak point on the album, and that’s the best part about Powerlines. There aren’t very many bands – let alone bluegrass acts – that can pull off such a diverse and exciting album as effortlessly as Mustered Courage do. They’re the perfect mix of bluegrass and high-energy folk music, and they’ve created a sound that is all their own with Powerlines, making the album an obvious standout for this summer.
Listen to "Old Steam Train"