Own Label (label)
25 February 2013 (released)
01 February 2013
Rose’s Pawn Shop are described as having an ‘arsenal of instruments’, like banjos, guitars and violins of various shapes and sizes and Dancing On The Gallows certainly starts with an attack of the ear drums, with the title track setting the bar pretty high, with a superbly ferocious jig. It quickly highlights that their bluegrass sound has got a very poppy feel, and might attract people who are less into the genre.
But bluegrass-Americana the band are at heart, with the well worn references of drink, bars and lost love included but all with a refreshing feel. Singer-songwriter Paul Givant was once in a rock band – and perhaps that gives him an awareness of a broader audience and it helps Rose’s Pawn Shop escape the niche that their lyrical clichés would otherwise leave them.
The pace of the opening title track is sustained through the first half of the album, with Danger Behind The Wheel closely resembling the awful Cotton Eyed Joe but getting away with it, while The Well’s fiddle and banjo intro takes us as close to a Hoedown as we get. There is always a smile in the sound though, even on the excellent on-the-road poignancy of Pine Box, which is followed by the darker Ball of Flames and the pining beauty of Patiently, where the vocals hit top form.
In fact the 3 and 4-part harmonies are one of the album’s strengths as well as great tunes and tight production. Another strength is some lovely lyrical word play, like Stronger’s opening line “You have a picture perfect, selective memory” and on album highlight Pine Box, with its references to a band trying to find that elusive big break – “I can’t turn water into wine, or music into cash”. The album has been around in the States for sometime, and this is a very welcome arrival for UK listeners.