Bluesbunny was impressed when he saw a young band from Athens, Georgia playing in Greenock a few months ago and was also rather pleased to find that they had a newly-released CD at the time. Having let it mature (CDs tend to mature faster than whisky), it's now time for a verdict.
Opening the album with a song about whisky ("Gets me Every Time") is never a bad way to start. Also apparent is a jot of pop integrity that takes little from the authenticity of their sound but instead forges an unstable bridge to the mainstream, not too unlike Planxty. Instrumentals, as expected, are present and allow the band to demonstrate their tremendous individual picking skills.
"Earl the Duck" - the tale of the unfortunately-named female duck - serves as a nice (and stupidly funny) change of tempo, following on from its fast paced predecessors. However, normal service is resumed on "The Story", which is probably as close as this band have come to sounding like Bright Eyes (although I'm sure that was never their intention).
What is on offer on this album is something that has strayed from traditional bluegrass; changing little of the music but enough to stretch their appeal to a wider crowd. The Packway Handle Band are probably the strangest bluegrass band you'll ever hear and yet their appeal is only strengthened by their collective weirdness.