My friend Katy Rose recently returned from JazzFest in NOLA and told me that Punch Brothers had stolen the weekend. The modern bluegrass band came together through a self-described “instantaneous musical connection” after commiserating about their failed relationships. Lead singer and mandolin player Chris Thile writes lyrics about agonizing heartbreak and has infused his instrument with a similar pain. His four-part movement about his divorce titled “The Blind Leaving the Blind” can be found on the album Punch Drunk. It’s a long journey through the complications of young love.
Their new album picks up on the traditional bluegrass themes of whiskey, love and continued whiskey. The band is made up of some serious pickers who create multifaceted song structure and layer over Thile’s voice to add some serious power to the vocals. “Rye Whiskey” is taken off of their Antifogmatic album and brings out the traditional energy you’d expect from a foot stomping, heavy drinking, bluegrass quintet. You can check them out live at Delfest over Memorial Day weekend.