The Coal Men -Everett

Vaskaleedez Records


Nashville-based roots-rock trio the Coal Men, led by guitarist-vocalist-songwriter Dave Coleman, supported by co-founding drummer Dave Ray and bassist Paul Slivka, have released their first new album in almost eight years. It is named after a 1950s Everett upright piano Coleman purchased from Nashville’s Downtown Presbyterian Church. Comfortable in their skin and still intoxicated by a big rock’n’roll beat, their streamlined electric guitar-bass-and-drums approach is augmented by either acclaimed Nashville keyboardist Jen Gunderman or Lane Kiefling (solo artist, and piano tuner of the Everett), on the upright piano, to provide additional emotional depth to Coleman’s imaginative songcraft. Recorded at his popular Howard’s Apartment Studio in nearby Inglewood, the trio have transformed themselves into steelworkers grinding out a double shift, allowing the fire, steam, and weight of the work to escalate into the alchemy of invention. It’s hard to fault this band for anything at all, especially when it comes to the quality of what they have released thus far. Indeed, the Coal Men’s tradition of making music live in the studio, rejecting the modern method of dubbing and mixing songs together as if they are digital Lego houses, is intact throughout this set. This powerful and compelling album is seemingly ready made for rousing road trips and sweaty, packed venues. Oh, to hear any of these 11 bruisers in a dingy, concrete-walled club right about now.

The threesome’s sound is vigorous and sly, every track is masterfully produced and the flavours run from the swampy Tony Joe White-esque Black Cat to the out-and-out rocker Johnny SinsRather Be Right skitters and darts in a free-form tone poem, while Dave Ray’s staccato drums propel the rockabilly rhythm with Berry-esque lead guitar adding meat and flavour to it. Coleman pays tribute to Joe Strummer with the pleading Come Back Joe, a bracing anthemic rocker, that boasts a widescreen riff and virtuoso guitar solo alongside some tinkling piano notes. The nostalgic I Hear Trains, takes them into country territory with a fond memory of growing up near a train line. As the song unfolds you realise that this is more than just another train song, with lyrics that carry a hard-hitting message.

Hearing a song like Radio Bell evolve so dramatically over the course of less than five minutes is compelling. A softer approach is very apparent, as the fuzz guitar riffs lay down a shimmering psychedelic feel that propels the tune with wafting piano notes as the romantic story unfurls. Heart Exposed grows in complexity, drums taking precedence to reinforce Coleman’s soulful vocal that inosculates around the dark and heavy baritone riffs. His guitar plays off the obvious love Coleman has for his material, digging in, crunching chords, squeezing notes through a fat, dirty baritone sound that takes Hammer Like Bill to a primal, sensual, full-bodied foundation. EVERETT is yet another worthwhile entry in the discography of a formidable band that is unconcerned with the kind of modern fashion that taints so many of today’s roots-rock acts.

March 2024