It’s no longer a novelty to get bluegrass recordings from Europe. The bluegrass community there is vital and active, as demonstrated once again to us on this recording, Hello Heartache from Czech banjo player Petr Brandejs. Joined by guitar player Ond?ej Plucha, mandolin player Honza Máca and bass player Jitka Baudischová, Brandejs deftly mixes a nice selection of tunes from within and beyond bluegrass (notably, a terrific version of Bob Dylan’s When The Ship Comes In), along with a few nice originals. Especially impressive is the skill shown by Brandejs (and, for that matter, fellow songwriters Petr Vacek, Petr Kus and Ivo Drbohlav) in contributing some excellent vocal numbers in what is presumably a foreign language – English. A daunting task, but it all sounds pretty much like bluegrass to me. They’ve obviously studied and absorbed the fine details of the music.
The band is tight and dynamic, the material is thoughtful and fresh and the recording quality is top-notch. You can hear some accents in the vocals that don’t quite sound Appalachian, but I’m not sure it’s any more foreign to the bluegrass ear than Joe Val’s Boston accent was. Bluegrass music is spreading world-wide and this is a terrific example of how far it reaches.