CD Review: The Coal Porters – Find the One
The Coal Porters are often billed as an alt.bluegrass band, and while there’s bluegrass to be heard in their harmonies and acoustic picking, their loose-jointed joy rings more of the 1960s folk revival than of modern-day bluegrass festivals. Band leader Sid Griffin has been widely quoted as wanting to make acoustic bluegrass-styled music lyrically relevant to current audiences, but the album’s themes – simple joys, forsaken relationships, biblically-inspired stories and historically rooted dramas – are more timeless than contemporary. The album’s two covers – a fiddle and harmonica take on David Bowie’s “Heroes” and a harmony-laden version of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black” – may be modern in sentiment, but they’re nostalgic in form. The Porters’ music is influenced both by the progressive folk of Griffin’s adopted England and the bluegrass of his native Kentucky; which makes sense, since both bluegrass and blue grass (that is, poa pratensis) have roots in Scotland, Ireland and England. The enhanced CD edition of this release includes a short video documentary about the band, providing a glimpse of Griffin as a bandleader, and the band as an ever-evolving outlet for his musical interests.