Bluegrass bands are often awe-inspiring when seen live but their albums sometimes disappoint and the tracks all sound the same. Not so the Coal Porters.
The long-established, London-based transatlantic band that bills itself as the world’s first alt-bluegrass band has produced 13 songs with strong stories to complement top-rate playing that will get you jigging around your living room.
The album title recalls the Colorado town where the album was recorded over a two-week period in April 2009.
Most of the songs were written by band stalwarts Sid Griffin and Neil Herd, but the album also includes Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane” and the traditional murder ballad “Pretty Polly.” The legendary Peter Rowan joins the band for their performance of his song “Moonlight Midnight”, and Tim O’Brien plays a mandolin solo on band member Dick Smith’s “Roadkill Breakdown”.
The album runs the gamut from traditional arrangements to the most modern of themes – “Permanent Twilight” is the tale of a soldier injured by a landmine in Iraq, while “The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil” is a cautionary tale about what happens to those who don’t make a fuss.
The most disappointing part of the album is the short video documentary of the band that the enhanced CD also contains. With album tracks played over the top of silent video, it’s not likely to tell an audience much other than what the band members look like. But it doesn’t detract from the quality of the music.