By Greg Cahill | From the March-April 2023 issue of Strings magazine
Happiness Is Letting Go is the sophomore effort from the Greeners, a genre-jumping London/Bristol-based alt-folk trio composed of Sonya Cullingford (fiddle, ukulele, vocals), Gus Seymour (cello, backing vocals), and James Traherne (guitar, vocals). Their music is buoyed by a host of guest musicians, including double bassist Pete Bennie and former world champion beatboxer Bellatrix (“Dismember Me”). The 11 tracks are playful, tuneful, and downright fun.
Happiness Is Letting Go
The band has drawn comparisons to Nickel Creek and Fleet Foxes, but you also can hear the carefree vibe of Lake Street Dive (“Don’t Leave Me Behind”) and the influence of Parisian café jazz, New Orleans funk, and the light-hearted campiness of the retro-folk act the Washington Squares.
These songs have been percolating since before the pandemic lockdown—the band’s self-titled debut arrived in 2017—though the Greeners have since released a pair of singles and an EP (2020’s Away). Compared to the debut LP, the production here leans to the poppier side. Still, such songs as the atmospheric, guitar-driven “I’d Rather” are downright dreamy. Strings are prominent on the opening track, “I Want To,” the ballad “Set Me Free,” the Celtic-folk influenced “Are You with Me” (featuring a bass solo by Bennie), and the chamber-pop meditation “Sunrise.” In a perfect world, the catchy ditty “Don’t Leave Me Behind” would be at the Top of the Pops. The song is more evidence of a refreshingly innovative band that’s not afraid to dig deep into its impressively creative kit bag.