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Beyond Progressive Bluegrass

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Friday July 20, 2018

From Financial Times

The Punch Brothers: All Ashore — ‘beyond progressive bluegrass’
By: Ludovic Hunter-Tilney

All Ashore is their fifth album, and the first that they have produced themselves. There are some familiar Americana reference points, such as the hoedown fiddle and banjo that jaunt away merrily in “Jungle Bird”. But the sinuous way that the five musicians move between different styles of music (folk, country, rock, modern classical, jazz) shows how far they have progressed beyond the “progressive bluegrass” tag. It is not quite uncharted territory — fellow travellers include Sufjan Stevens and Joanna Newsom — but it is mapped with skill and insight.

[…]

“Jumbo” opens as a breezy 1940s novelty song before turning into a sharp satire of inherited wealth. “The Gardener” handles the topic of inequality in a more sentimental manner, a country-tinged ballad about domestic labour. The album ends with “Like It’s Going Out of Style”, an impressive fusion of folksiness and sophistication in which the theme of life’s changes is addressed through an enticing series of cyclical melodies.

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