With a fusion of bluegrass instrumentation and folk-rock amplification, Rose’s Pawn Shop has spent the better part of two decades carving out an Americana sound that’s as diverse as the band’s native Los Angeles. Their past releases offer a melting pot of modern-day roots music, shot through with electric guitar, fiddle, raw percussive stomp, and stacked vocal harmonies. Anchored by the sharp songwriting of frontman Paul Givant, it’s a sound for campfires and car stereos, for front porches and dive bars, for the heart as well as the heartland. With Punch-Drunk Life, Rose’s Pawn Shop makes a long-awaited return after an eight-year absence from the recording studio. Things have evolved since the group’s previous album, Gravity Well, earned high marks from Rolling Stone (who dubbed the record “a blast of 21st century pickin’-party music”) and GQ (who praised the group’s “knee-slapping bluegrass-y twang”). Bandmates have come and gone. Families have been built. Side projects have been launched. Meanwhile, Rose’s Pawn Shop have continued to expand both their artistry and their audience, thanks to a dedicated touring schedule that’s taken the band from the venues of Southern California to the fishing villages of Alaska to the mountain towns of the American Southwest.
That momentum continues with Punch-Drunk Life. Recorded amidst the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s a life-embracing album rooted in the lessons learned during times of struggle. “Old Time Pugilist,” the record’s dynamic opener, turns a boxing metaphor into a bold battlecry about fighting against life’s hurdles and hardships. “The Lonely One” finds Givant rededicating himself to the hardscrabble life of a road warrior. “Gratitude” celebrates the legacy of a departed loved one, while songs like “Ghost Town,” “High Lonesome,” and “Halfway Down the Road” coat themselves with the cinematic, sepia-filtered imagery of the band’s tours across North America’s forgotten places. Recorded by a band of genuine road warriors, Punch-Drunk Life swirls together its own geography: a place where endless highways, desert landscapes, and the long road toward home all converge.
“[On Punch-Drunk Life,] the band has refined its signature mix of bluegrass instrumentation with roots-rock flourishes.” – Glide Magazine
“Rife with harmonies, ‘Gratitude’ offers a personal insight into loss while also embracing a life well-lived.” – Jam Band News
“This highly charged band manages to create their own unique sound, in large part due to the craftiness of the songwriting, their storytelling and the musical virtuosity.” – WXPN
“Rousing, fierce, and anthemic… a stomping interpretation of alt-country and Americana songcraft.” – Iowa Public Radio
RIYL: The Head and the Heart, Punch Brothers, The Avett Brothers, The Decemberists, The Contraptionists
Recommended Tracks: Track 2, “Ghost Town,” Track 3, “Gratitude,” Track 4, “Better Now,” Track 5, “Fugitive”
Label: KZZ Music
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