If there’s one thing missing from the music scene at the minute, in my opinion, it’s contemporary bluegrass. So, when I heard the EP Bluebirds from the band Cup O’ Joe it was a real breath of fresh air. The Northern Irish trio intertwine a mixture of Bluegrass and folk music that is exhilarating yet incredibly relaxing.
The EP kicks off with “Bluebirds”. The first thing I must say is ‘wow’. I could listen to that banjo all day. There is no messing round as the song gets straight to it with the banjo and guitar into soft vocals. The band harmonise wonderfully with one another as every single voice and instrument seems as dominant as one another. Nobody seems to take a back seat as they all show what they can do from the get go.
The next song is “Pretty Fair Maid”. This song, instrumentally, starts a bit softer then Tabitha takes lead vocals from the beginning. Her voice is wonderfully therapeutic with the banjo mirroring her soft tone. The entire song is much more relaxed than “Bluebirds” which is a nice juxtaposition. They make sure the entire EP isn’t too much and there is time to sit back and reflect on what you’re listening to.
The third song “Blackwaterfoot” is nothing short of a masterpiece. This song should be on an Abilgail Washburn and Bela Fleck album. It is a perfect rendition of what pure, unequivocal talent can do with instruments. There are no lyrics but the pacing of the entire song is just faultless. I can just imagine this being played live and the entire crowd just stopping what they are doing and watching in awe. It is hands down my favourite song on the EP.
After “Blackwaterfoot” I was slightly apprehensive; how could they possibly top this song. Yet again, they get the balance of fast paced and calming perfect throughout “Homesick”. It starts straight in but isn’t quite as upbeat as previous tracks. The vocals are kept to the minimum and yet again the instruments speak for themselves.
We move onto the penultimate track “Tell Me Darling”. It opens with the signature banjo taking the forefront and then we are treated to Tabitha’s beautiful vocals again. The guitar plays in the background but the focus is well and truly on the vocals and lyrics. With lines such as ‘Time looks hard miles apart give me the right words to say’ and ‘now I know there’s a need for each other, tell me darling my love is at the end’ this song is very emotional and moving.
The final song of Bluebirds is “Black Coffee” and takes a slightly different approach. At two minutes long it gets straight into it and is almost reminiscent of something you’d hear from Postmodern Jukebox. The bass in this song stole it for me. It was refreshing to hear the bass take the forefront as opposed to the banjo and really added another dimension to the track. “Black Coffee” was a great short and sharp way to end the EP and it is incredibly catchy.
If it wasn’t obvious, I loved Bluebirds. I was slightly worried that they had done too much too soon; maybe they wouldn’t be able to keep up the standard throughout the entire EP. I was well and truly proven wrong. I can think of nothing better than seeing these guys performing live in the likes of Five Points with a Guinness in hand. A great EP and definitely worth checking out.