Tuesday, May 1, 2012

CD REVIEW - Finnders and Youngberg - fy5

By W.J. Hallock

Finnders and Youngberg  - fy5

Released: 2011

      Colorado was home to me for fifteen years, so the first song, “Red Mountain Pass,” on their latest CD, FY5, by Finnders and Youngberg, caught my attention right away. And after listening, it made me really miss the hi-country….. I can’t even begin to remember the number of times I’ve been over Red Mountain, and Wolf Creek, in a snow storm.  The lyrics of the song definitely brought back some memories. I’ve known the fear of a whiteout blizzard and the terror of not knowing just WHERE the road disappeared to! After the first listen I had to play it again….. and after the third time through, I was a Mike Finders singer/songwriter fan, and a new follower of the music of FY5. And I had only listened to one song!

      Before I went on my merry listening way, I went over the liner notes. As I was reading the song titles, another one caught my eye. The second song I listened to is simply called “Nebraska.” Having been born and raised a Cornhusker, I couldn’t resist moving the song to the head of the line. Again, I was very moved by what I was hearing, but, again, it made me homesick. Some of the best years of my life were spent in the Sand Hills of North Central Nebraska. My great Grand Father homesteaded his original ranch there 129 years ago, and the fifth generation of my family still works that ground today. The Nebraska I’ve known can be beautiful, but the weather can be brutal. My parents are buried there, so it will always be home…..The hardships depicted in the song could very well have been part of my ancestors everyday life on the plains.

      Mike wrote this one, too, but this time, bassist, Ms. Erin Youngberg, sang the lead vocal. Her voice brought the lyrics to life as she sang of a prairie wife trying to stay alive without her husband. I doubt the song would have had the same impact if Mike had sung it. It’s a real testament to Mike’s writing ability for him to tell the story from a woman’s point of view. And a songwriter who passes one his compositions off to another singer because he knows and wants what is best for the SONG, is a wise man. An admirable quality.  As a two time winner of the prestigious Chris Austin Merlefest songwriting contest, Mike knows his craft and the songs he has presented here are as interesting as they are different. “Connie,” is another favorite. The whole premise of the story is quirky and unique. And lets not forget “Driftwood.” These are just four of the ten original songs on FY5, but not to worry, the other six are just as good. The more I listen to Mike’s voice, the more facets show themselves. He has power, strange syncopation, odd nuances and a range that I’m not really sure how big it is! On “Driftwood,” he sings higher, then higher…. and then higher again! I’ve never heard any one sing quite like Mike does. And the icing on the vocal cake on this tune is how well he and Ms. Erin harmonize.

      There’s not a weak link in the FY5 chain. Everyone sings, their harmonies are spot on and their musicianship is excellent across the board. Besides Mike on guitar and Erin on bass, Erin’s husband, Aaron Youngberg plays  banjo, pedal steel and guitar.  He also owns Swingfingers Recording Studio in Fort Collins, Co. where this CD was recorded. He also was responsible for all the mixing and engineering. He brings years of studio and musical experience and talent to this group. Rich Zimmerman plays mandolin and Ryan Drickey, a former Rockygrass fiddle contest winner, rounds out the band.

To really enjoy the depth, personality and charisma of this group, you need to check out their promo video  They seem to be having the time of their lives, and that stage ZING is probably one of the reasons that FY5 will be one of the official IBMA Showcase Concert acts at the 2012 Convention in Nashville. Dollars to doughnuts, if they go to Tennessee and do “Driftwood” with all the pizzazz and exuberance that is so prevalent on this CD and in their video, they’re going to blow the doors off the IBMA crowd!  Yep…..FY5 needs to be in your CD library.


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