When Athens, GA outfit the Packway Handle Band sought Jim White out to produce an album, the quintet learned he had a massive stash of bluegrass songs just waiting to be sprung on the world — and they would make the perfect slingshot. “When I’d heard ’em play a couple of years earlier,” White says, “I muttered under my breath, ‘I wish I could have that much fun playing music.’ When they offered me the chance to produce, I thought, ‘How can I undermine this?’” The answer is Take It Like A Man, the new Yep Roc Records release by Jim White vs. the Packway Handle Band, due out January 27, 2015.
Sounding like an ivory-tower academic one minute and a stand-up comedian the next, he explains that term versus addresses the “conflagration of opposing mindsets” as an answer to the question, “What happens when we throw these two unlikely elements together?”
The album alternates between White and Packway compositions; only one track, the campy bluegrass rave-up “Corn Pone Refugee,” is a co-write (credited to White and Packway’s Josh Erwin). The first single, “Not A Song,” by Packway mandolinist Michael Paynter, is an infectious, upbeat melody fueled by clever lyrics and la-da-da harmonies.
In the hands of White and the ebullient Packway Handle Band, the whole album adds up to a huge dose of fun, with just a dash of sorrow.