FY5: FINNDERS & YOUNGBERG – Eat The Moon (Swingfingers Records sf003)

FY5 FINNDERS & YOUNGBERG Eat The Moon Since Finnders and Youngberg doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, the Colorado quintet headed up by Mike Finnders and Erin Youngberg have adopted a rather shorter name. However, to ensure that old fans know who they are, they’ve also kept the two surnames, which makes it a bit of a mouthful. None of which is actually relevant to the music, which combines Appalachian bluegrass and honky-tonk to enjoyable effect.

As well as the aforementioned singers (of whom Erin is the more distinctive), the line up also comprises banjo and pedal steel player Aaron Youngberg, mandolinist Rich Zimmerman and violinist Ryan Drickey, this being their second album, following on the heels of 2013 EP, I Don’t Want Love You Won’t Give Until I Cry.

The title track, or rather the full version, ‘She Wants To Eat The Moon’, sets the ball rolling with Erin taking lead on an airy old time-styled ballad coloured by steel and fiddle that picks up the tempo slightly after the intro before Aaron’s banjo kicks in and Mike steps up to the microphone for the frisky ‘Desert Bluebell’, a paean to a flower though that could easily be a blooming metaphor.

Erin takes on the upright bass for the breezy goodtime banjo dappled Bill Monroe feel of Back Door before, Youngberg on vocals again, more old time hillbilly colours splash across the optimistic ‘The Day Is Wide Open’. Being accomplished musicians all, it’s no surprise to find an instrumental nestling in with ‘Old Dog Waltz’, opening with Zimmermann’s mandolin picking before Drickey and the other players get their spotlight. Vocals resume with Finnders providing the refrain back ups to Erin on the honky-tonking ‘After Tonight’, a track on which it sounds like someone’s playing spoons. Backed by pedal steel, Finnders take over for the equally country sounding midtempo playfully cautionary ballad ‘Watch Out For The Blues’ then its down to Aaron to showcase his banjo chops again as Erin kicks up her heels for the hayride romping ‘What Do I Do’.

The mood then changes dramatically with ‘Saint Vrain’, dark, fiddle and nervy banjo accompanying a song sung by Finnders in the voice of the titular Colorado river as it recalls getting as mad as hell and flooding and devastating the town of Lyons, After which, the album ends with a palate cleanser, perhaps quite literally, called ‘Mama’s Cooking’, Finnders heading up the bluegrass rockabilly swing as banjo and fiddle trade licks. It’s not anything revolutionary, but those who appreciate well played, well written old school American roots won’t be disappointed. Grab a fork and dig in.

Mike Davies

‘Lonely’ live at The Swing Station: