This is a notable debut by a band that obviously gives good value: The Original Five is actually a seven-piece group (two guitars, banjo, resonator, fiddle, mandolin, and standup bass). It originated in the summer of 2010, playing gigs in the Möllevången district in the town of Malmö, Sweden.
It doesn’t matter who the original five members were, or even if there were any. The band has a seasoned bluegrass sound with flavorful country, hillbilly, and Western Swing influences. And it truly shines with impressive original material. Among these, you may hear echoes of IIIrd Tyme Out in bass player’s Dan Englund’s lively “Gone, Gone” and just as easily detect Del McCoury in guitarist Johan Bandling Melin’s jaunty “Out Of My League.” Jonas Svahn, the outfit’s other guitarist, has penned the powerful “That Someone Is You,” which could have been sung by his hero Tony Rice or by the original Seldom Scene.
There are covers of outside material, but nothing overdone or overly familiar. Even the Carter Family’s “Solid Gone” (also familiar in its variation as “Cannonball Blues”) is given a fresh, enthusiastic treatment here. One gem is the band’s version of Australian songwriter Tom Morgan’s wry “The Outdoor Type” (in which a creature comfort-loving suitor confesses to his intended girlfriend that he’s really anything but). It’s a pleasure to hear a new European band—or a band from anywhere, for that matter—steeped in a variety of bluegrass influences, but with its own sound. The Original Five is smooth but lively, laidback but consistently attention-getting. The skilled picking and thoughtful arrangements complement the pleasing lead and harmony vocals. This is the kind of band you’d love to discover by chance in an intimate venue like a comfortable bar or coffeehouse and just sit down and enjoy. If you can’t jet over to Scandinavia to catch them live, listening to Greetings From Möllevången is easily the next best thing. (www.theoriginalfive.se)RDS