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Rose's Pawn Shop

Gravity Well – 2014 (Rose's Pawn Shop)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Rose's Pawn Shop

It takes a certain bit of savoir faire to name your band after an ex-girlfriend who gets revenge by hocking all the band's equipment and instruments at the local pawn shop, but according to the available publicity and website information, that's exactly how Los Angeles-based Paul Givant and his Rose's Pawn Shop mates acquired their name. Givant, the ex-boyfriend in question, is the lead singer and lyricist for the quintet, and judging by this second release, they do have a breezy style to fit the name.

By their own admission, their sound is a "mishmash" and "disparate array" of a variety of influences ranging from old time, bluegrass, classic country and folk, but a quick listen through the dozen tracks hints at a number of other influences, in particular classic rock and country-rock bands of the '70s and '80s, including the Doobie Brothers and the Marshall Tucker Band. Givant has a timbre to his voice that will remind more than a few of Tom Petty, an ethereal sound that adds a lot of mood and meaning to the songs. And on "Staring At The Door," they even manage to give off a Lennon-McCartney "Magical Mystery Tour" kind of vibe.

The band manages an uncomplicated, driving sound that they fit to a variety of moods and tempos, with nice harmonies, and it's an easy and entertaining listen. While there are certainly country and bluegrass touches (mostly by way of banjo), however, this fits more squarely into the "country rock" end of things, with a lot more power chords than twang.

The closest they come to hardcore folk and country is "Country Blues," and it's among the more intriguing tracks. However, there's a concern to be raised here. The liner notes state that Givant wrote all the lyrics, but the "Country Blues" heard here is the song generally attributed to the great Appalachian singer and banjo player Dock Boggs and recorded by many over the years, including Doc Watson. Givant almost certainly knows this, and it's likely a production error or oversight, but it would be nice to see Boggs get credit.