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Punch Brothers

Europe / International

Punch Brothers comprises guitarist Chris Eldridge, bassist Paul Kowert, banjo player Noam Pikelny, singer/mandolinist Chris Thile, and fiddler Gabe Witcher. The Boston Globe recently said of the band, “Their uncanny ability to play with dynamics — not just contrasting quiet and loud but effortlessly shifting from one to the other—speaks to their ability to breathe together as a group. To call the Punch Brothers a well-oiled machine would imply that there is a drop of oil to be seen, when in fact they are staggeringly tight and clean.”

All Ashore, Punch Brothers’ fifth album and the first to be self-produced by the quintet, is both ambitious and easygoing, a lot like the “ridiculously eclectic” combo, as London’s Guardian once called the band. The work has the feel of a nine-song suite, one that invites you to unravel the threads of its connected themes and stories over repeated listening. Each track segues seamlessly, even a little sneakily, into the next. Before you know it, “The Angel of Doubt,” a dark-night-of-the-soul drama featuring a vocal from singer-mandolinist Chris Thile, has glided into “Three Dots and a Dash,” an instrumental that veers from ruminative to rave up, named in tribute to a classic Tiki cocktail, Thile’s latest recreational obsession.

Thile calls All Ashore “a meditation on committed relationships in the present day, particularly in light of the current unsettled political climate—certainly the most unsettled one that anyone in the band has ever experienced.” In a more pronounced way than on prior discs, All Ashore comes across as a glimpse into Punch Brothers’ current real life, as these artists who have spent more than a dozen years playing together grapple with marriage, family, and their ever-accelerating individual careers as producers, composers, arrangers, and front men. “This record is a distillation of the things that only we can do,” adds Witcher. “We wanted to focus on the things that make us unique, and I think we did. And we have a more cohesive and successful record. We’ve been around for twelve years now; we know who we are.”