By Janelle Van Dalsem
Poor Man’s Poison is a bluegrass/folk band from Hanford, California. I have to admit: when I was first assigned this band I thought, Oh great; here we go, another super-witty-socially-conscious-nerdy-but-cool-acoustic band. These bands have been springing up all over the place and have made nerdiness cool, which is one of my all-time pet peeves.
But Poor Man’s Poison was different. For one, they aren’t just labeled a bluegrass band because they grew up listening to Earl Skruggs and throw in a banjo every couple of tracks. They actually disperse bluegrass throughout their music and are genuinely classified as a bluegrass band (though if I were to be specific about it, I’d classify them as a progressive bluegrass band).
Secondly, their melodies are strangely calming and energizing the same time. I listened a mix of their songs while studying; they were great background music without putting me to sleep and thought of what a great road trip cd it would make.
Thirdly, their lyrics are poignant without being, well, cheesy. “Devil’s Price” has been playing in my head off and on since I first heard almost 2 months ago. (And no, it’s not because I have a drinking or drug problem.)The first line grabbed me when I heard it: “The devil said sit and have yourself a glass.” And “Always You” is the Sour Patch Kids of Poor Man’s Poison; it’s bitter and sweet and what I felt was a well-balanced song.
Poor Man’s Poison is surprisingly pleasant and has potential for wide-spread appeal without compromising quality of music or lyrics. I highly recommend this band, a true diamond in the rough.