Sounding for all the world like they come from the mountains a couple of hours drive southwest of the BU offices in Virginia, this band hails from several thousand miles away in northeast Finland. Make no mistake about it, these guys deliver the goods, this is hard-driving bluegrass with an edge not heard since the likes of Red Allen. Syren sounds like a baritone Allen and sings with the force of a roadhouse warrior used to battling the ambient noise of clacking beer bottles and buzzed conversations. The band drives with an intensity, honed in performance. The songs are strong without being tired warhorses. Jake Landers’ “Secret Of The Water Fall,” Buzz Busby’s “Lost,” Carl Butler’s “My Tears Don’t Show,” all are fine performances. This is their seventh CD.
Tauri Oksala provides powerful banjo Scruggs-style and fine fingerpicked guitar on “Forgotten Grave” which also features a gospel quartet. Syren plays a brittle sounding mandolin that races along with the cutting precision of a scalpel. Guests Nelli Ikola and Marko Vanhatalo provide tasteful fiddle and resonator guitar respectively. J.P. Putkonen plays guitar, and Kari Hella ties it all together on bass. All of the bandmembers sing harmonies that add to the power of the arrangements.
If your taste runs to the hard-driving traditional bluegrass of decades ago, don’t miss this recording. While not perfect, they really get the sound right. (Goofin’ Records, Hämeetntie 46, 00500 Helsinki, Finland, www.goofinrecords.com.) RCB