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music

Mind Over Matter – Released 2014

Mind Over Matter - Front

Untapped Routes – Released 2010

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Where The Tall Grass Grows – Released Nov 2007

g2_album_where

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Liner notes for “Where The Tall Grass Grows” written by Jon Weisberger -2007

It’s no exaggeration to say that the release of G2’s Where The Tall Grass Grows is one of the more exciting developments this year in international bluegrass—no, wait, make that one of the more exciting developments this year in bluegrass, period.  For aside from the intrinsic virtues of the music they make, what G2’s emergence underlines is that bluegrass has not only become an international language, but that this international language is reaching a new generation of musicians—and, apparently, a new generation of fans, too.

To point this out isn’t to deny the vitality of the European bluegrass scene that this strikingly young Swedish band has entered with such an impact.  The truth is, as those who have followed that scene in recent years know, there is a swiftly growing wealth of talent and creativity among European bluegrass musicians.  Rather, the point is that the best of Europe’s bluegrass artists have mostly taken one or the other (and sometimes both) of two paths: either they have devoted themselves to mastering variations on mainstream traditional bluegrass, or they’ve worked to synthesize bluegrass with elements of their own roots music traditions.  And certainly, these approaches have plenty of merit, easily measured by the fine music that has come from European bluegrass artists, especially over the last ten years.  Still, it’s deeply gratifying to see a new young band take a different route to a bluegrass identity, and that’s exactly what G2 has done with Where The Tall Grass Grows.  Listen to this album, and two things become immediately obvious.

The first is that, unlike most of their peers, these are musicians who have a profound affinity not so much for the bluegrass tradition of the past—though they certainly are capable of doing a fine job with classics like “I’ll Stay Around” and “Riding That Midnight Train”—but for the 21st century bluegrass being created by a growing number of young American artists like Kenny & Amanda Smith, Chris Thile and the Infamous Stringdusters.  This is music that’s conscious of tradition, but also with roots in contemporary country, folk, and even more wide-ranging sources, refracted through youthful sensibilities and pursued with a fresh, energetic enthusiasm that is enormously attractive to new audiences.

Secondly, and no less important, G2 has not only embraced these influences but integrated them into an approach that is sophisticated, polished and tight, but also refreshingly creative and original.  Indeed, while one may tease out influences in their work, the band has reached a remarkable point given how recently it was formed and how young its members are.  A consierable amount of credit must go to Christoffer Olsson, who wrote the bulk of the material here, but whether they’re Olsson’s, or Tobias Stromberg’s, or Jens Koch’s snappy instrumental, these songs are startingly good—rich and thoughtful, yet also instantly memorable in the way that good songs always are.  And, of course, the entire group has put its stamp on each, not only with excellent playing, but with sensitive, insightful arrangements that place G2 on a par with the best of bluegrass in any country.

In short, Where The Tall Grass Grows isn’t just a good European bluegrass album; it’s a good bluegrass album, period.  Those who insist that bluegrass must always sound the way it did 60, or 50, or 40, or even 10 years ago may not appreciate its creativity, but even they ought to acknowledge the talent that G2 has brought to the project.  For the rest of us, that talent is only a starting point, for while craftsmanship and musicality are surely important things, creativity and an embrace of new directions are no less valuable—and these can be heard in every one of the selections here.  Young and energetic, able and willing to bring their music to audiences not just in Sweden, not just in Europe, but around the world, G2 shows every sign of taking a place among the ranks of today’s most exciting and forward-looking bluegrass acts—and that can only be to everyone’s benefit.

-Jon Weisberger, Nashville, TN, August, 2007


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