Release Date: Jul 20, 2018
Record label: Nonesuch
Scaling back from the expansive horizons of 2015's T-Bone Burnett-produced The Phosphorescent Blues, Punch Brothers may sound intimate on 2018's All Ashore, but they haven't lost their ambition. All Ashore is designed as a song suite exploring the meaning of committed relationships within the social chaos of the 2010s -- a rich and resonant lyrical concept that the group pairs to sweet and sighing strings. While Punch Brothers don't shy away from pushing at the boundaries of string music -- "The Angel of Doubt" contains vocal phrasing that borrows liberally from hip-hop -- they nevertheless sound relaxed and weathered throughout the record, directing attention to the songs themselves instead of the band's instrumental interplay.
If you read the news these days, oh boy: with scandals, setbacks, and Twitter rants invading our feeds at dizzying speeds, at best, it can be a lot to take in. At worst, it can invoke the kind of despair that makes you genuinely question the merit of going outside and talking to people. On "All Ashore," Punch Brothers seem to be feeling a bit overwhelmed, too.