Before I even listened to Greylag’s debut album, a small part of the press release caught my eye. It stated that 65 demos had been created for this album but it is comprised of nine songs and coming out at quaint 39 minutes playback time. 65 demos yet only nine songs made the cut? Were there 56 terrible songs and only nine good ones, or did they have 65 brilliant songs and just randomly select the nine that they wanted on the album? However selective the process was, the nine songs that they selected were probably the best choices they could have made, or so we hope. Although Phil Ek (Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, Modest Mouse) produced the album so that is pretty much confirmation that Greylag are presenting their very best songs on their self-titled debut album.
Greylag does not disappoint with their self-titled debut album. They bring you a delicate blend of bluegrass, folk, and rock music, and with Ek’s guidance each genre is subtly displayed in each song. Upbeat folksy drums, or the thundering electric guitar pieces are subtly mixed with twanging bluegrass acoustic guitar chords. Greylag spans several genres, and can be best described under the eclectic label of Americana – which sounds a lot like bluegrass combined with loud 70’s rock music, sprinkled with a dash of a weird hybrid between Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Artists that front-man Andrew Stonestreet cites as being influences on him while growing up.
The album is a melting pot of melody, moodiness and an immaculate attention to the detail. Somehow, they managed to highlight the small things in each song that makes them sound so unique from each other. Whether it is capturing the atmosphere of a smoky dive bar in “One Foot” or throwing you into a 1950’s dance-hall with the slow bluesy musings of “Walk the Night Alone”. There is something unique about Greylag’s music that makes you instantly love them, yet there is no catchy hook or some pop chorus that grabs your attention.
What grabs you is pure musicianship without any fancy accessories added to it. Greylag is practically the embodiment of the soul of bluegrass tinged with the fierce growls of modern blues rock. Acoustic elements stand out alongside the acute snarls of gritty guitar riffs and melody-infused drumming which gives Greylag an upbeat feel. “Another” is the opening track, and shows their softer side but one should not be fooled by this lighthearted acoustic styled song with strong roots in 1950’s blues. “Yours to Shake” is rather a better measure of the band with a delicate balance between acoustic pieces and hip-shaking electric guitar pieces.
Greylag displays the talent of a band that is only just getting started. Greylag may be named after the common ancestor of all modern geese, and the last bird to start its migration, but that just signifies their ability to stand the test of time and survive multiple changes in musical trends. They may have been sitting back and casual watching, but now they’re ready to take the world by a storm. If there is any eclectic indie band that I would want to make it big, it would be Greylag alongside their phenomenal record label Dead Oceans.