Punch

Punch

5.0 1
by Punch Brothers
     
 

On Chris Thile's previous album with the band now known as the Punch Brothers -- that would be his "solo" disc, How to Grow a Woman from the Ground -- the Nickel Creek mandolinist contributed a desultory, heartrending song titled "I'm Yours if You Want Me." The person to whom that song was addressed had already answered no, thus laying the groundwork forSee more details below

Overview

On Chris Thile's previous album with the band now known as the Punch Brothers -- that would be his "solo" disc, How to Grow a Woman from the Ground -- the Nickel Creek mandolinist contributed a desultory, heartrending song titled "I'm Yours if You Want Me." The person to whom that song was addressed had already answered no, thus laying the groundwork for Punch, Thile's in-depth, anguished account of the collapse of his marriage. Not that it's a downer. By and large, the music soars and sprints along on wings of breathtaking virtuosity by the assembled quintet (Chris Eldridge, guitar; Greg Garrison, bass; Noam Pikelny, banjo; and Gabe Witcher, fiddle). The high-energy newgrass opener, "Punch Bowl," boasts some catchy Beatles-like harmonic changes in the verses and allows Thile to demonstrate some newfound vocal strength, as he belts out the lyrics in a sturdy, assured timbre he's mostly kept under wraps. But the heart of Punch -- a signal moment both in Thile's career and in the annals of contemporary bluegrass -- is the four-movement suite titled "The Blind Leaving the Blind," a forensic investigation into the artist's matrimonial debacle. Compositionally, "The Blind" is a tour de force, featuring stirring passages of intricate instrumental dialogues, bold soloing, rousing ensemble interludes, and abrupt shifts in texture that evoke the thin line between love and hate. The whole enterprise is more than 40 minutes in length and is, despite its frank accounts of heartbreak, betrayal, rage, and conciliation, surprisingly buoyant, even celebratory at times, perhaps to underscore Thile's healing sense of personal renewal. As his history makes clear, where Chris Thile goes from here is anybody's guess, but he will get there. As his second album's title had it, not all who wander are lost.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Christopher Monger
Chris Thile's first post-Nickel Creek band project (the ultra-prolific, former child prodigy has been releasing solo albums since 1994) builds upon the darker, more challenging moments of 2005's Why Should the Fire Die?, drifting further into the ultra-progressive bluegrass that has become his forté since expanding his repertoire from young mandolin virtuoso to genre-bending, new acoustic trailblazer. The Punch Brothers consist of Thile at the wheel, fiddler Gabe Witcher, guitarist Chris Eldridge, banjo player Noam Pikelny, and bassist Greg Garrison, all of whom share their bandleader's impeccable chops and unpredictability. The group's heady debut begins innocently enough with the serpentine yet reasonably catchy "Punch Bowl," a song that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Strength in Numbers' Telluride Sessions, but from there, things take a left turn (this is a band that routinely works covers of Radiohead and the Strokes into their live set), and a rewarding one at that. Thile's four movement/forty-minute "Blind Leading the Blind" suite is heavy (as in divorce, loss, love, and redemption heavy), but it's also exhilarating. It ebbs and flows with little concern for conventional structure or traditional narrative, bursting into frenetic picking and dissolving into gentle harmonics whenever it chooses, layering even-handed, vibrato-free sections of close harmony singing over increasingly dissonant chord progressions that warrant repeated listens even as they unfold. It's a bold move, and one that straddles pretense all the way through without ever succumbing. Traditional bluegrass fans will no doubt require multiple mugs of Punch, and even then they may never quite get it, but if you relish the idea of Béla Fleck, Turtle Island String Quartet, and Jim O'Rourke getting together for a friendly meal of reconstruction and catharsis, then your dinner is most certainly ready.

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/26/2008
Label:
Nonesuch
UPC:
0075597998283
catalogNumber:
181732
Rank:
5972

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Punch Brothers   Primary Artist
Chris Thile   Mandolin,Vocals
Gabe Witcher   Fiddle,Vocals
Greg Garrison   Bass,Bass Guitar,Vocals
Noam Pikelny   Banjo,Vocals
Chris Eldridge   Guitar,Vocals
Chris Elridge   Guitar

Technical Credits

Robert Hurwitz   Executive Producer
Richard King   Engineer
Chris Thile   Composer
Gabe Witcher   Composer
Autumn de Wilde   Cover Photo
Greg Garrison   Composer
Noam Pikelny   Composer
Punch Brothers   Composer
Steven Epstein   Producer,Audio Production
Steve Epstiein   Audio Production

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