CD Review – Rose’s Pawn Shop “Dancing on the Gallows”
Progressive Bluegrass anyone?
The title track which opens the album kicks it into life with a 30 second ‘duelling banjos’ type intro; but these banjos appear to have a Punk-Folk tuning. When Paul Givant’s fulsome voice comes in, the whole atmosphere goes up a notch or two, on what could have been ‘just another Bluegrass album.’
There are party songs dotted all over DANCING ON THE GALLOWS and I defy anyone to listen to The Bed in Which You Lie and Danger Behind the Wheels without getting the urge to tap their toes or even dosey-doe. But the actual songs themselves are well worth listening to, too.
Tim Weed’s fiddle on The Well sounds like it could burst into flames at any time. Christian Hogan sounds like Country’s answer to John Bonham on the drums as Givant takes us on a musical journey worthy of Vince Gill at his finest.
Like the very best in the industry, Rose’s Pawn Shop don’t just do ‘fast and furious,’ they can slow things down when necessary. And, when they do, with the break-up song, One Last Glass of Whiskey, Givant manages to sound like a man on the edge as he sings over some spectacularly mournful fiddle playing and a gently strummed guitar. Strangers is a similar slow ballad and will bring grown men to their knees as yet another love affair crumbles before our very eyes.
The album ends with a 7-minute opus called Debt Collector which couldn’t be more relevant if it was written tomorrow. Givant’s voice shines throughout on the harrowing and angry tale, but the band – including what sounds like a Mariachi trumpet player – show remarkable restraint as it reaches a very powerful conclusion.
It’s only when you find out that Rose’s Pawn Shop hail from LA that you begin to understand why this blend of Bluegrass sounds the way it does. There is more than a shot of Punk and Alt-Country coursing through the veins of every song here. With Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers currently taking America by storm and Bellowhead doing the same in the UK, the future bodes well for a band like this who can blend Bluegrass with Folk and Country as well as they do.
*This album was first released in the USA in 2010 but will be available in Europe from February 2013 to coincide with a tour.