Punch Brothers: 'All Ashore'

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Tuesday September 04, 2018

From Folk Radio UK

Punch Brothers: ‘All Ashore’
By: David Kidman

Ever since their formation in 2006, the Punch Brothers have been sold as something of a progressive-bluegrass supergroup, and over the 12 years since then, they’ve continued to push the boundaries of even that loose sub-genre, far and away into what is latterly been dubbed avant-roots. For anyone thus far still unacquainted with the quintet, there are no brothers involved, although the symbiotic bond between the five musicians is extraordinarily brother-like. Also, none of the members are named (or nicknamed) Punch, but their music packs a considerable punch. The ensemble work is by any standards remarkable, both in terms of instrumental chops and natural vocal interaction.

Punch Brothers’ lineup comprises Chris Thile (mandolin, lead vocals), Gabe Witcher (fiddle), Noam Pikelny (banjo), Chris Eldridge (guitar) and Paul Kowert (bass). Their 2015 album The Phosphorescent Blues (produced by T Bone Burnett, no less) was a thought-provoking statement which also made good musical sense, introducing into the already stimulating musical mix of bluegrass, newgrass and progressive jazz elements of 20th century and contemporary chamber-classical and esoteric pop invention. Its followup All Ashore, while a consolidation of these elements, takes the band’s keen envelope-pushing a stage further, while at the same time being (perhaps more obliquely) informed by all the various side-projects with which its members had been involved in the intervening years. It tells too, that the band is completely at ease in the studio (specifically, the same studio they’ve used for the two previous records), and having established a rapport with the space, they’ve taken the decision to self-produce this new album.

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