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Rose’s Pawn Shop (from the album Punch-Drunk Life available on KZZ Music) (By Lee Zimmerman)
Just as their handle seems to imply, Rose’s Pawn Shop has always made it a point to defy easy categorization. Ostensibly an Americana outfit that leans heavily on Bluegrass, they regale in the Roots without the need to conform to any particular regimen other than their own. Not surprisingly then, their new album, giddily titled Punch-Drunk Life, takes its cue from a seemingly carefree, non-hurried agenda, one that informs their attitude with an obvious vitality and a fresh enthusiasm that drives their delivery overall. Indeed, that’s the way it ought to be, given the fact that it marks the band’s first new album in eight years. As a result, they seem revived and rejuvenated, as if their muse simply couldn’t be contained. Like most outfits sidelined by Covid, the absence has inspired them to pick up from where they left all, albeit with fresh inspiration and a determination to deliver their best work yet.
While earlier efforts have leaned on heartland happenstance and a somewhat soothing sound, Punch-Drunk Life takes its sound to the open road, driven by equal parts urgency and engagement. The band — singer/songwriter, guitarist and band picker Paul Givant, guitarist and producer Zachary Ross, bassist Stephen Andrews, drummer Matt Lesser, fiddler Tim Weed, and multi-instrumental contributor John Kraus — clearly feel the need to leave an indelible impression, one that suggests they’re making up for lost time and eager to get on with a newly-revitalized musical mission. It’s a sound flush with riveting guitars, the frenzy of fiddles and soaring harmonies, all well-synched at an irresistible pace. It is, in short, a life-affirming effort, shared through songs that emphasize the need for determination even in the most challenging circumstance.
Those sentiments are immediately evident on the album’s upbeat opener "Old Time Pugilist" in which Givant takes on the persona of a boxer forced to face up to life's most dire difficulties. On the other hand, ”The Lonely One" finds him playing the part of a road warrior in a decidedly easy and engaging manner. So too, “Gratitude”, just as its name implies, offers a decidedly positive perspective while “Miss Tennessee” presents an unabashed homage to the state name-checked in its title. Likewise, “Boomerang” fashions an amiable approach reminiscent of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, a clear contrast to "High Lonesome”, a song spawned from absolute depth and devotion.
In a very real way, then, some might say Punch-Drunk Life ultimately belies the inference implied in its title. Granted, a portion of the proceedings could be considered irreverent to an extent. In a larger sense, it allows the band the freedom to follow their own muse. Rose’s Pawn Shop inevitably take a few knocks, but they ultimately come out swinging.
Listen and buy the music of Rose’s Pawn Shop from AMAZON
For more information head on over to Rose’s Pawn Shop website
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