Rose's Pawn Shop

REVIEW: Rose’s Pawn Shop “Punch-Drunk Life”


Rose’s Pawn Shop – Punch-Drunk Life

This album is the band’s first studio effort in 8 years, a modern roots-rock unit with a bluegrass tint recorded in Los Angeles. 12 exceptional songs with tight well-written stories, hard-fought battles, facing a crossroads, dealing with loss, acquiring resolve, redemption & survival — drenched in the musical clarity that is Americana music.

The first is “Old Time Pugilist,” (pugilist — an archaic word for a professional boxer). The vocals are mindful of the folk-rock appeal of vintage bands like Ozark Mountain Dare Devils, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Goose Creek Symphony & Seatrain. With their hardest edge being similar to the James Gang (“Walk Away”) or Spirit of the West. Everything is played well but their real highlight is their voices.

Paul Givant -- Rose's Pawn Shop

Even when the song features one solo singer the style & mood of the performances are solidly maintained with a laid-back California-Jackson Browne-type approach. However, this isn’t California singer-songwriter music. There are no Eagles comparisons. There is stamina to this music & optimism in the face of challenges.

The 47-minute firecracker CD Punch-Drunk Life (Drops Feb 23–KZZ Music) features the jabs & uppercuts of Paul Givant (vocals/banjo/guitar/songwriter), Zachary Ross (guitarist/producer), Stephen Andrews (upright & electric bass), Matt Lesser (drums/vocals) & multi-instrumentalists Tim Weed (fiddle/vocals) & John Kraus.


Being away from the studio hasn’t left much rust on their guitar & fiddle strings or mold on their drums. The diversified music tantalizes & though the songs are somewhat formulaic they possess an originality that supersedes that groove. The songwriting comes from a deep well of inspiration. Sometimes a formula is what’s actually appealing to uninitiated ears & to the mainstream. Not everything can be deep, philosophical, or political. This is entertaining — period. These guys are good.

A song like “Fugitive,” is creative. Nothing is mediocre. It’s lyrically indulgent & colorful & they apply a time-honored compositional recipe to their work. Despite a penchant for modernizing their exuberant melodies, they don’t neglect their roots. There’s lots of moonshine in their songs & they can rouse a crowd with stuff like “Miss Tennessee.” I’m a Jersey boy & this is music to scuff up some hardwood floors with.


“The Lonely One,” — the loveliest of all on this set is a fiddle-driven tune with the addition of a female vocalist who really enlightens the exercise. Nice touch, absolutely marvelous. Followed by the well-arranged “High Lonesome,” that’s a high-octane workout all the way. These pugilists set the pace with both hands.

What the band achieves single-handedly is prove that old-timey music still has life, guts & determination. Especially in the early rounds. It can still send out ripples of musical waves & none is a confection. So long as it’s in the right hands. These are the right hands.

This is a well-navigated showcase & they win every round. They’re not punch-drunk yet. Highlights – “The Lonely One,” “Old Time Pugilist,” “Ghost Town,” “Fugitive,” “Miss Tennessee,” “Boomerang,” “High Lonesome” & “Life By Misadventure.”

Color image courtesy of All Eyes Media & RPS website. CD @

Enjoy our interview of Paul Givant here: Key to the Highway: Paul Givant from Rose’s Pawn Shop


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