The Greencards were beginning to stretch the boundaries of bluegrass and acoustic country on their third album, 2007's Viridian, and with their fourth set, Fascination, they've made it clear they're not going to let generic boundaries get in the way of their musical growth. The group's lineup hasn't changed, and they still play acoustic instruments exclusively, but Fascination features little that resembles traditional bluegrass. Instead, the Greencards adventurously try their hands at reggae ("Fascination"), lively uptempo pop ("The Avenue"), slinky jazz ("Three Four Time"), and atmospheric tone poems whose scope belies their status as a three-piece ("Into the Blue"). Even the tunes that bear the closest resemblance to traditional acoustic music find the trio putting a new spin on old sounds -- the simple but insistent percussion on "Rivertown" fuses a powerful energy to a melody in the classic style, and the wide dynamics and adventurous counterpoints of "Little Siam" suggest newgrass thrown into stylistic overdrive. One thing that thankfully hasn't changed is the remarkable skill of these three musicians and the magic that occurs when they play together; Carol Young's lead vocals are strong, heartfelt, and evocative (as is her bass playing), while Kym Warner's mandolins, bouzouki, and ukulele and Eamon McLoughlin's violin, viola, and cello reveal the gifts of a virtuoso and the imagination to do something fresh with their sounds. And the gentle but engaging beauty of the Greencards' earlier music certainly carries over to Fascination; if this album represents a brave step onto new ground, it also retains the beauty and soul of their best work, and while old fans will be pleased, it's easy to imagine some new ones will be drawn in as well.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming