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Old-School, Alt-Country Rockability
Dancing in the Gallows (Independent)
Rose's Pawn Shop
By Kirk Kiefer
Dancing in the Gallows opens with a slow build of drums, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, bass, guitar and the following line: "It all began at the end of a trail of booze, broken arms and blood stains." That's as good a summation of this album as any. Rose's Pawn Shop plays a mix of bluegrassy country with a bit of rock 'n' roll thrown in for good measure – and they do it really well.
Standout tracks after a couple listens are the rockabilly-esque "Ball of Flames," with its ominous feedback drenched intro and demonic fiddle, along with the road-weary "Pine Box," full of some lovely melodic guitar/fiddle dueling and introspective lyrics.
"Straw Man" was another one I kept coming back to, thanks to its chugging banjo and a great groove, topped with the top-notch vocal harmonies that shine throughout the album. In fact, on every song the musicianship is impeccable, though I do find myself wishing the production wasn't quite so slick at times; some songs feel like they want to rock just a little more but are a bit restrained. I expect they put on a helluva live show, though.
While there's nothing particularly ground-breaking about Dancing on the Gallows, I don't think that's the intent; not everyone wants to be Radiohead and fill their music with bleeps and bloops and atonal noise. This album is clearly using an old school sensibility, with subjects familiar to country songs (whiskey, heartache, death, etc), and simply trying to write good tunes and perform them with the highest degree of skill. Rose's Pawn Shop accomplishes this and then some. Anyone tired of what passes for country nowadays would really be missing out if they didn't give Dancing in the Gallows a chance.
Find out more over at rosespawnshop.com.