This is a great disc to accompany Randall Wilkerson and the Dark Hollow Band's Real Monsters Look Like Men (here), all gritty ruminations and dark polemic. It's also a buttress to my argument that music as good as both these guys craft deserves the simple but beautiful production Peeple invests his work with. Crystalline structures in decaying landscapes are crucial even in dark musics, as they reinforce philosophical projections and real-time musical snapshots.
The disc's inner liner photographs show a tough muscular guy who looks like he probably doesn't take a whole lot of shit off motormouths and jerks, and the music reinforces that impression. Peeples is definitely not happy with what he found happened to his country, America, after a several year hiatus down Nicaragua way…on a remote island for eleven years, where he built and managed a hotel. The pawnshop icon he named this disc after is appropos of what the U.S. has become: the soulless aftermath of a capitalist nightmare slowly decaying, taking complete advantage of the suffering it created as the society collapses. His sympathies lie with the downtrodden, dreamers, and artists, not the robber barons, politicians, and business swine. However, he's not pampering the rebels either.
Peeples sings in a gruff from-the-streets voice laced with Waits, Cash, Cohen, and all the whiskey-throated encanters we so prize in our hard-tack roots heritage—and I find more than a little Kelly Phelps in him, for various reasons—but Pawnshop is a solid return to the 50s, 60s, and 70s while simultaneously criticizing modern trends and their vacant integrities. "No, this is real country, man, and it ain't pretty," from Real Country, kinda sums it all up. Don't look to Grant for mushy romanticism or crying towels 'cause he knows that ain't the cure, brother, and the very obvious connotation is that it's well past time we girded our loins, rolled up a sleeve or two, and started in on the perps and pigs who took us down this road. I couldn't agree more, and Pawnshop just might be one of the elements to help wake us from our slumbers and remember the rebellious dissenting spirit that created us 200-plus years ago. It most vehemently wasn't this go-along, get-along, corporate Stalinism we now regard as…well, if not our heritage, then at least inevitability, God help us. And that's as good a token of damnation as you're likely to find, the loan broker we sold our souls to.
Meanwhile, on the up side, you can rock, blues, boogie, folk, and tex-mex swing to this disc if ya wanna, as there's plenty of each here. And if you think Grant Peeples doesn't walk the walk, then dig this: he'll send you the disc on the trust system. Just tell him you want it (www.grantpeeples.com) and he'll post it to ya, trusting you'll pay upon receipt. When was the last time you saw business conducted that way?Just askin'…and just thinkin'.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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