With the new year comes new shows, but also brings out new albums, and what a great way to start than with the Punch Brothers putting out The Phosphorescent Blues. The band's fourth album was pruoduced by the great T Bone Burnett, consist of eleven new songs, and was released on January 27th. T Bone Burnett has an astonishing body of work that includes working with Bob Dylan, as well as Los Lobos. Now he adds this to his arcive of acomplishments and this album certainly could stand up there with some of his best work.
The Punch Brothers are commonly known for their combination of both classical and bluegrass styles, and this album is no exception. The first song "Familiarity" illustrates this point really well. The song goes in many different directions, but it's Chris Eldrdge's guitar playing that is the most appearent melody change. Eldridge goes nuts on guitar while the rest of the band is playing much more softer sounds.
"Julep" also encumpasses the band's great combination, but it's more than just the instrumentation that makes this song so intriging, but Chris Thile's eerie lyrics. Thile, on this tune sings about his final moments before death from beyond the grave. This darkness is really captivated and seen through in the music.
Besides having these great clasical numbers on the record the band added a few new sounds, such as the sounds that are apparent on "Magnet". "Magnet" is one of the more simpiler songs on the record and doesn't contain any interchanging melodies between the members. Though it is much simpiler it shows that the band is willing to add new sounds to who they are as a band. Drums, played by the band's violinist/fiddle player Gabe Witcher, are also apparent on "Magnet" and a few other tunes.
Gabe Witcher's playing is very interesting on this album because he combines both violin and fiddle sounds. "Familiarity" and "Julep" are fascinating examples of his violin sounds, songs like "Boll Weevil" showcases the instrument's fiddle elements. This switch between the instrument's two distint sounds is not always apparent. Most times performers only exude the instrument's violin or fiddle sounds, thus what Witcher does is amazing.
The Phosphorescent Blues contains interesting, new, and well-played songs,but there is so muchmore songs than what is mentioned here. Also Paul Kowert, (bass) and Noam Pikelny, (banjo) do amazing work, as well as Thile, Eldridge, and Witcher. This is definately an album to pick up, but it is a listening album and should be listened to in the quite of home and not while in the noise of a car. Once listened to the first time around and has been throughly listend to, then it can be listend to anywhere.