Durango (April17 – April30) – The Coal Porters (Prima Records)
It’s apt that, when talking about this release, Sid Griffin makes several mentions of how proud he is of the music contained within, because this is a set of songs that explore in subtle and diffuse ways the sense of self worth, even in difficult situations and times.
It is also full of darkness and humour, quiet anger tinged frissons and huge sighs of hope and that’s just on the opening two tracks, where a (maybe) murder ballad is subverted into a wild gleeful hoedown (Let’s Say Goodbye..) and in ‚No More Chains, the band takes the listener on a country spiritual drive through simple yet dense images of a long dreamed of freedom
Fiddle player Carly Frey takes lead vocals on the tender tempest of‘Moonlight Midnight‘and we realise that most of the songs are about or set in the hard heart of night, that they talk about the dawn, the sunlight, with the wistful lament, of the almost empty bar, the all night clerk, the sound and emotion of the trains shuffling past, half noticed as we sleep.
There are songs of drinking here too, created with an understanding and compassion rare for popular music. No lectures given, no fingers pointed.
And this fine band even find time to take on Neil Young‘s ballad of fear and desire, ‘Like A Hurricane‘ and make it seem like a gentle crush, a country swoon, a dance ‘tween lovers who already know each others secrets but smile and swing anyway.
From mandolin to dobro and all manner of instruments in between the playing on this album is thoughtful, alive and deeply emotional, no solo unnecessary, no chorus too much. The passion conceived here stays long after the final song has played.
Go out there and buy this, it deserves to be in as many homes as is possible.
You can hear tracks from this album and the thoughts from the musicians on the NBT Podcast going out on the 23rd Feb 2010.