Gypsy Lumberjacks | Pulling Upon the Strap | New Music Review

Article Contributed by Richard Morgenstern | Published on Thursday, April 24, 2014

Gypsy Lumberjacks are a Minneapolis based Americana band with a sound consisting of a mix of World Beat, Flamenco, Caribbean, Gypsy Jazz and Bluegrass. With such a range of influences, there is something for everyone to latch on to in the music. Known for never performing with a set list, Gypsy Lumberjacks prefer to rely on each other’s leads and changes. Their latest work entitled “Pulling Upon the Strap” was released in 2014 and I was blown away with what I heard. This is such a complex, amazing and dramatic CD what else can I say in the end? Pulling Upon the Strap is more than amazing and dramatic, it’s also extremely suspenseful and somewhat Jazzy. I like to call this genera Bluegrass Jazz because and only a handful of bands have ever really played it. It has a very melodic Folkish-bluegrass quality to it as well. The intro track ‘Chicha Fria” gives you the impression as if you were Rickshaw Riding though the heartland with its pulsating vibe. The really vivid, yet emotional charged vocals from Leif Magnuson evolves into a great opener reminiscent of acts such as Batmobile, The Meteors, The Quakes, Mad Sin, Long Tall Texans and The Hillbilly Moon Explosion. Magnuson has a really strong tonal foundation coupled with heavy rhythms, hypnotic fretwork, amazing writing, with spaced out goodness. The vocals from Magnuson is well executed and the lyrics are to say the least interesting. That’s how diverse Gypsy Lumberjacks are. Without a doubt, it’s impossible to deny the superiority of this band consisting of Leif Magnuson (Vocals, Acoustic Guitar), Peter Verdin (Electric Bass), Benn Karon, (Cajon, Percussion), Doug Christensen (Percussion), Cliff Smyrl (Accordion), James Berget (Violin). The percussion and the bass lines just help push the CD/album forward, and the vibe, if you pay attention carefully, has a really old time Americana –Country-Blues Rockabilly sort of vibe to it. As the CD evolves it showcases some dramatic combinations of high energy fretwork/violin tandems fused with worldly percussion and impressive harmonies. The violin and acoustic guitars have an especially important role on all pieces as well. I really like how well the guitars and violin merge into one melodic sound – well done.  On many these tracks Magnuson is clearly in charge of giving the mood assigning to each song vocally. He’s no slouch on acoustic guitar either. The addition of the well partitioned segments gives many song “Jamboree” Bluegrass touch.In conclusion, here’s a CD release I’ve been dying to get my hands on for a while. I was just unable to stumble across these guys until today. It’s also very subliminal, and a grand concept that’s sure to get many peoples attention. From the production level, to the musicianship involved, “Pulling Upon The Strap” by Gypsy Lumberjacks delivers in grand fashion.  With the advent of this band to mainstream folk, with their superlative signature sound and trademark moniker, everything here works terrifically well. It will keep you in a state of positive wonderment from start to finish.