Published Jan 27, 2015As the story goes, Jim White was a producer that had worked with the five-piece Packway Handle Band down in Athens, Georgia. After recording with the band, White became a fan of their upbeat performance and general attitude towards music, so when they approached White to help record their next record, he said, "Screw that, I'm joining the band!"
Take It Like A Man is a disjointed affair with a slippery identity. An intended goal seems to be lacking throughout, and with the exception of a few songs, White and the band seem to be on different pages. While some convoluted lyrics overstretch the number of beats in their allotted bars, others seem overly vague, with the failed intention of being cryptic. The violin-centric "Blood on the Fiddle, Blood on the Bow" has lyrics that repeat the title but only add, "I told you so"; this may be done with the intention of being sinister, but it comes off as hokey and the words sound lazy.
The tracks on which White and the band mesh here stand out. "Not A Song" is a poppier offering that finds the group providing enthralling hums as well as absurdly charming lyrics: "This is not a song, this is a suicide mission, gonna crash into your house just to make you listen." The band reconciles all the moving parts into one very attractive organism, showcasing their ability to harness a horn section into a bluegrass form and use the coupling to their advantage. Little leaps of faith on "Corn Pone Refugee" and the wooden flute on "Sorrow's Shine," meanwhile, pay dividends for the group.
It must be stated that the potential for the group is promising; after a little bit more time writing with each other, Jim White and the Packway Handle Band could put together a record really worth looking out for. (Yep Roc)