Daniel Grindstaff’s bluegrass instrumental “Finnland” is a piece close to the musician’s heart. The title is inspired by Grindstaff’s son and it likewise heralds the upcoming release of Grindstaff’s Heroes and Friends project set to hit a little later in this new year. Heroes and Friends is eagerly anticipated in light of Grindstaff’s previous release “Forever Young” featuring the considerable guest talents of Dolly Parton and Paul Brewster and more than builds on the success of that outing.
He’s working with another guest on this single. Fiddle player Andy Leftwich is a four-time Grammy-winning player who complements Grindstaff’s prodigious skills without ever stealing the spotlight. The collaborative process is important, naturally, in every musical genre, but it’s especially critical to the success of bluegrass music where timing and chemistry are paramount. Leftwich attacks the breakneck pace of this tune with every ounce of instrumental fluency he can muster and never disappoints. He locks into Grindstaff’s banjo playing and complements it each step of the way.
Grindstaff never puts a finger wrong during this performance. Playing “Finnland” is an endurance test as much as it is a demonstration of his compositional skills as the aforementioned brisk tempo allows no room for error. It’s apparent that Grindstaff and Leftwich cut this tune live and the lack of any overdubs or studio gimmickry is a hallmark of bluegrass at its most authentic. There’s no wasted motion during this single and its running time of a little less than three minutes reflects the laser focus that Grindstaff and Leftwich alike bring to the performance.
It has a winding, circular quality that carries listeners through the song. Defining this despite the speed with which it breezes by listeners further testifies to the skills of the principles involved. They are sure-footed at every turn and the decisive manner of their relationship with their respective instruments is one of the high points of the performance.
Instrumental tracks are common fare in bluegrass music and newcomers to the style won’t bemoan the lack of vocals or words. The mood of the song is celebratory without ever careening overboard. Given the inspiration for the song’s title, it isn’t a stretch to interpret the performance as a tribute to Grindstaff’s son, and it shines with buoyant affection and love.
The construction of the track ends the song in a conclusive fashion. There’s no gradual petering out or unresolved threads for listeners to ponder. Daniel Grindstaff’s musical art has established him among the forefront of modern banjo players and the East Tennessee native commands respect from genre purists and fellow artists alike. He’s played with many award-winning artists and landed scores of appearances on the Grand Old Opry stage as well as television and festival appearances galore. “Finnland” proves why his journey has taken him to the biggest stage that a bluegrass artist can command and likewise shows that his voyage is far from finished. If you haven’t yet heard of this talented performer, it’s time that you have. He’s well worth your time