[13 August 2013]
Powerlines is the second album from Australian bluegrass crew Mustered Courage. The 12 songs here are all high quality, and they hit across a wide range of styles within bluegrass. “Standing By Your Side” and “Southern Style” are catchy, upbeat songs dominated by the banjo, while “Behind the Bullet” is a minor-key stomper and “My Hometown” is a great ballad. The high speed instrumental “Allegheny” shows off the band’s considerable picking skills, as does the equally fast kiss off “Go to Hell”. The a cappella “Towing the Chain” demonstrates that the band can harmonize as well as they can play, and is just about the only place on the album where a sharp-eared listener can pick up a hint of Mustered Courage’s Aussie accents.
The dark lyrics, modern setting, and roots-rock feel of “Powerlines” shows that the band has more on their minds than just replicating traditional types of bluegrass songs. And while some may gripe that a bunch of Australians know nothing about southern hospitality or riding a steam train from Tennessee to New Orleans, it’s not like most modern American bluegrass acts have actually experienced those things, either. The bottom line is that Mustered Courage has the style, songwriting and chops to stand toe to toe with most of their American contemporaries, and Powerlines is worth a listen to bluegrass fans.