There is a game that we reviewers play, and it is probably called “books and covers,” or something alluding to such judgments. Before you play the music, you take in things like the band name, track titles, artwork, and band photo and try and work out what is about to follow the needle drop. Floodgate Operators is a great name; the squid imagery is a reserved one, and apart from a few hints at roots-friendly instruments, you just have to head into Lawrence with an open mind.

But what greets you as the music starts is nothing short of a bluegrass revelation. It contains all the energy and urgency that the genre is built on, basses pound, mandolins drive, guitars pick, banjos buoyantly bounce and the layered harmonies knit together perfectly. And yet there is also something wonderfully up to date and off the here-and-now about the song, a freshness to go along with the familiarity.

The genre may be well-settled in the roots music landscape, but Floodgate Operators prove that bluegrass is a genre perfectly capable of moving with the times. Lawrence is all the proof that you need.



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