Fireside Collective “Across The Divide”

Mountain Home Music Company, 2022

Unashamedly bluegrass, but bloody good bluegrass.

Fireside Collective wouldn’t be the first band to have used the forced isolation of lockdown to inspire a songwriting retreat of sorts. Indeed, it has inspired a whole raft of introspection, of experimentation, of creativity and reflection amongst the songwriting fraternity as has been revealed on these pages over recent months.

In this particular case Fireside Collective retreated to a cabin in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina to begin the process that would culminate in ‘Across The Divide.’ With the aim of expanding their repertoire the band have explored funk and country, blues and folk. That said, make no mistake, this is very much a bluegrass album. Meticulously crafted, brilliantly performed but unashamedly and proudly bluegrass to its core.

If each member is integral to the overall sound and gorgeous harmonies that the album provides it is the banjo of Alex Genova and Jesse Iaquinto’s mandolin that lingers longest. From the very first high energy notes on opening track ‘When You Fall’ it is clear we are very much in Union Station territory, not only with the overall sound but also the sheer exuberance and quality of the instrumentation. If that Union Station comparison raises some eyebrows, then so be it. It is a high bar set early and, if some album openers flatter to deceive, then that is categorically not something that can be stated here.

With the odd exception, notably with the lovely country twang of ‘Not Today,’ the songs maintain that high energy opener throughout. The songs speak of love, loss, fear and the comfort of home but, without meaning to detract in any way from the lyrics themselves, they will not be the predominant feature to grab the attention here. Rather, it is in the music of Fireside Collective and the trademark intricacy and skills of the musicians that are always such a distinctive feature of bluegrass that lovers of this genre will find a warm welcome here.

8/10
8/10

About Peter Churchill 141 Articles
Lover of intelligent singer-songwriters; a little bit country; a little bit folk; a little bit Americana. Devotee of the 'small is beautiful' school of thought when it comes to music venues.

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