Rose’s Pawn Shop
Punch Drunk Life
Insurgent Bluegrass That’s a lot more Americana Than You’d Expect And Wired With a Punchy Punk Edge
It’s busier than ever here in Reviewland; but most of what is waiting to be reviewed happens to be from acts I’ve never previously heard of; so selecting something to devote a few hours to can be difficult and often be quite random …. in this case, while looking for something from someone else on my laptop, I stumbled upon the opening track Old Time Pugilist; which I thought I’d have a quick listen to.
45 minutes later I’d played the full album and had two pages of cryptic notes.
When written down on paper; Rose’s Pawn Shop’s distinctive and ‘fascinating’ style of playing sounds as if it is designed to put you off …. when it shouldn’t.
For example; Old Time Pugilist instantly sounds like it’s going to be a Bluegrass song…. but the story is deliberately complicated in a Folk Song style and a lot more Americana than you’d have expected; plus it’s wired throughout with a punchy almost Punk edge to it.
Honestly, all those things are at play all through PUNCH DRUNK LIFE …. and combined give us songs like Fugitive, Satellite and/or the mesmerising Boomerang, that aren’t just memorable but the type of songs that spark up debate among fans.
As far as I could tell this was a debut album; but research found it’s their first in 8 years, which isn’t really a surprise; because the whole album from the songwriting, arrangements and individual musical flourishes is mature and sounds like a band at the top of their game after serving a very long apprenticeship on the front line.
Even though there are musical moods that swing between highs and lows here; the quality never drops one iota ….. listening to Gratitude and the 100 mph High Lonesome Sound this morning was like hitting a nail bang on the head …… PUNCH DRUNK LIFE sounds like the type of songs The Band could give us were the last constituent parts were to get together in a claustrophobic inner city studio.
The ‘cutting edge’ to these songs has been just what I needed to soundtrack my life/mood at the moment ….. not least on the two songs that have tied as my Favourites; the rambunctious Miss Tennessee is the type of dynamic and vivacious Bluegrass-Rock that Steve Earle though he could make when he paired up with Del McCoury, but failed with ….. Rose’s Pawn Shop manage to merge the two with ease.
T’other; is Ghost Town, which bares no construct relevance to the Hit for The Specials; apart from the thread in the story that weaves its way through a 90 mph Folky, Bluegrassy, Punk infused Rocktastic song for cognitive Boomers everywhere …. a song for 2022 in every which way.
Just as I was having another ‘wobble’ regarding the future of the site; along come Rose’s Pawn Shop to remind me why I started reviewing albums by bands and singers no one had heard of nearly twenty years ago …. with no National Radio to play these songs and National/International magazines still fawning over Dylan, Bruce and Bonio with 15 page retrospectives and ‘charging’ for reviews …. it is left to the likes of RMHQ and our like to unearth albums like this and put it before you like it’s your last meal on earth.
Released 4th November 2022
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2 thoughts on “Rose’s Pawn Shop PUNCH DRUNK LIFE”
RPS!! Love those guys! Stalwarts of the touring life for sure.
Their earlier albums are fantastic. This version of the band is wonderful though, having seen them live in all their various iterations. I’ve never been sure why they didn’t hit it bigger. Maybe now’s the time.