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Daniel Grindstaff’s “Forever Young”

At times bittersweet in tone and constructed to make a bluegrass fan out of even the most discriminating of music critics this September, Daniel Grindstaff’s “Forever Young” is indeed a track worth its weight in gold if you like smooth strings and appearances from the likes of Dolly Parton and Paul Brewster when we’re least expecting to find them.

I’m as much a country fan as the next guy, but if you’re craving a harmony-focused jam that strips all of the excess elements out of the mix altogether, leaving behind the very foundations of melodicism alone, you need a song like “Forever Young,” just the latest in a string of enticing new covers I’ve been hearing lately. Bringing bluegrass into the 21st century the right way is no easy feat considering that many have tried and failed miserably, but I don’t get the impression from Grindstaff that he’s feeling particularly pressured in his performance here.

On the contrary, he sounds in his element and, more than anything else, ready to influence and inspire a generation that has been missing something as rhythmically defined as this brand of his songwriting most definitely is. With a little help from his friends, I think he hits the mark and then some here.

These familiar, Dylan-penned verses are in the eye of the hurricane of harmonies that come pouring out of the speakers shortly after pressing play on this track, but they share the spotlight with the swing in the tempo without creating any sort of a war for our affections in the grander scheme of things.

The strings are very prominent in the mix, setting off the groove that gets us going at the start of the song seamlessly, and I can understand why they were positioned the way they were. Were the rhythmic component to “Forever Young” not as magnified behind the board as it was in this instance, the depth of the strings would have probably overtaken the harmony driving home the lyric in the chorus. This would have rendered both sides of this single too overwhelming and potentially even avant-garde in tone, which typically isn’t the crowd an artist like Daniel Grindstaff is trying to win over.

If this gorgeous take on “Forever Young” is just a preview of what its creator is going to be putting out in the next few years, it won’t be the lone hit this singer/songwriter has under his belt by the time the next chapter in his career commences. His sound is coming into focus beautifully in this single, partly thanks to Dolly and Paul Brewster sitting in, and even though he’s still got some road ahead of him in this career, there’s nothing about the blueprint behind his sound that I would recommend changing anytime soon.

This has been a great era for experimenting artists in country and ‘grass, and while I won’t go as far as to call this cover an anthem, it’s giving us something else to listen to as opposed to the recycled rhythm and rhyme of a tired commercial country realm.

Troy Johnstone

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