FAME Review: Josh Slone & Coaltown - Josh Slone & Coaltown
Josh Slone & Coaltown - Josh Slone & Coaltown

Josh Slone & Coaltown

Josh Slone & Coaltown

Rural Rhythm Records - RUR 1074

Available from Rural Rhythm Records' Amazon store.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Rural Rhythms. This CD is on the Rural Rhythms label, that's all I really need say, but, hell, it's Saturday, a fresh flagon of bourbon has just been broached, and, feelin' ornery, I'm thinking' perhaps I need a coupla tearjerkers and a bit o' thet thar banjo playin' 'n stuff to settle me down a spell. A tad skosh of hound-dawgin' from Josh Slone wouldn't hurt none neither, brother, and so, hellfire, let's delve into this baby and see what happens, hm? Oh, and ya wouldn't happen to have a kerchief handy, wouldja? "No", as Slone sings and Mike Wells writes, "those aren't tears in my eyes…that's just dust" and, 'sides, the sun's shinin' something fierce t'day, ain't it?

First of all, though Josh 'n the boyz can sure kick up a fuss, they also know their collective way around a bluesy lament, as in One Step Ahead, a cut dripping with understated verve, traditional quasi-religious morality, hard luck, and woeful reminiscence. Slone, it quickly becomes evident, boasts a strong clear voice, a cat who knows damn well what he's singing about and isn't about to hush up fer no one. Good thing, too, because he embodies all the best aspects of shitkickin', dust-choked, get-the-hell-outta-my-way-I-got-something-to-wail-about bold country/bluegrass spine. The CD is, in fact, so perfectly lined up with RR's prestigious output that one can hardly imagine it anywhere else, and if L.A. radio would play material like this, perhaps I wouldn't be listening to talk radio all damn day!

If you're American, you have a grubstake in this music, and if'n ya ain't, well boy howdy, there's enough room in the music world for you to walk in, set down, and rub elbows, 'cause every country on Earth likes fine playin' 'n singin', Jeeter -- that's why over here we listen to Celtic, gypsy, madrigal, even Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: there's something magic about a musician who can decant his culture for another's delectation, and Eric Slone & Coaltown are as solid as they come in that respect. In fact, I know of at least one critic—whose identity I will forebear to cite for, um, personal reasons (good enough guy, I guess, but kind of an idiot sometimes)—who used to say "Ha! Goat-ropin' music? Man, that's for rednecks and ploughboys!" and now blushes up a mite, as he pens a critique or two for a certain folk & acoustic site, recalling that decidedly uninformed viewpoint.

Slone produced this release, his bassist Bob Maynard co-mixed it, and the disc is 100% up to label standards, faultless and pristine, so we're not talking just artists here but craftsmen as well, musicians who take their work seriously and give a damn what they're telling and selling. In that, J.S. and his fine ensemble join a roster of estimables making up an imprint whose wares you can buy without bothering to pre-screen because just the name itself says everything. If that sounds circular and New Agey, it is; this is the way the old music world and its much too crappy regime gets edged out in favor of real art and people who give a damn.

Track List:

  • Virginia Bound (Michael Wells)
  • Daddies Don't Cry (Wells / Lambiotte)
  • Destination Heartache (Brinkman / Breedlove)
  • Mam's Midnight Altar Calls (Michael Wells)
  • A Lovin' Man (Michael Wells)
  • One Step Ahead (Brandon Rickman)
  • Cold as Ice (Mike Eavans)
  • Where I Used to Lie (Michael Wells)
  • Big Blue Raindrops (Cordle / Fleenor)
  • Bluegrass and Me (Michael Wells)
  • Hillbilly Girl (Michael Wells)
  • For the Love of Ellen Moore (not credited)
  • Long Legged Woman (Michael Wells)

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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