Greenland is Melting, a trio of folk musicians from Gainesville, FL, recently released their sophomore album— the superb “Our Hearts are Gold, Our Grass is Blue.” Taking cues from a growing number of artists, the band is offering the entire album as a free download from their website ( http://greenlandismelting.com/), although the eleven-song collection is hard to pass up at any price. The band is made up of a banjo, guitar, bass, an improvised kick drum, and a bevy of three-part vocal harmonies. They describe their sound as “the Avett Brothers mixed with Wilco and Against Me!” and these influences definitely show throughout their work. Despite any similarities though, “Our Hearts…” remains a thoroughly original and entertaining work.
The album opens with “From City to Town,” an autobiographical ditty on the tribulations of touring. Far from being self-indulgent and filled with rock star glamour, it comes across as cheerfully gritty and blue-collar, setting the tone for the rest of the album. It then moves on to the fast-paced, tongue-in-cheek, “No More Sorry Songs,” which shines as one of the album’s best tunes. From its opening line – “I swear to God I’m sick of sorry songs and sobbing on the phone” – the song evokes, and yet seems to make light of, the stereotypical country song of love and loss. This gives it a sometimes-rollicking feel, quite the opposite of the tunes it pokes fun at. The equally catchy “Already Gone” offers the listener an introspective piece whose raw and slightly off-key vocalizations lend the song an air of honesty not often encountered in contemporary music. The eventual descent into whistling and brass serves to make a song that is subdued, yet lively. Even the album’s only piece of unoriginal work, a rendition of the folk staple “Wayfaring Stranger,” is knocked out of the park, in which the band uses their harmonies to great effect, underlining and reinforcing the already haunting classic.
The only downside to the album is the shortest piece, “Everyone Wants to Go to Heaven, but,” which, despite the charming, folksy instrumentation, consists of the band yowling “whoa” over and over again. This brief interlude is linked thematically, if only in title, with the following track, “No One Wants to Die,” but ultimately serves to throw off the pace and feel of the album when taken as a whole. The song is just under two minutes long, but when the entire album weighs in at just over thirty minutes, it seems to be a disproportionately long distraction.
Drawbacks aside, “Our Hearts are Gold, Our Grass is Blue” is a quick and satisfying listen, filled with catchy melodies and rough, straight-from-the-front-porch folk vocals; for seasoned listeners of folk-punk and newcomers alike, Greenland is Melting is delightful.