Scott Holstein – Cold Coal Town

Scott Holstein - Cold Coal Town - Bluegrass UnlimitedSCOTT HOLSTEIN
Coal Records, No Number

This is an outstanding recording in every way. With a rich baritone voice reminiscent of country singer Josh Turner and a talent for writing straight-to-the-gut lyrics wrapped up in strong melodies, Scott Holstein has hit one out of the park with Cold Coal Town. These great songs draw from life in coal country and build a consistent theme throughout the entire recording, resulting in a cohesive work that may very well stand with the likes of Jimmy Arnold’s Southern Soul or Marty Stuart’s The Pilgrim.
Propelled by Holstein’s powerful vocals, Cold Coal Town is a trip through the highs and lows of Appalachian mountain life and the coal mining which has, throughout the history of the region, been both a blessing and a curse. Holstein’s well-crafted, compelling songs hit the themes believably, from the prisoner’s lament in “Walls Of Stone” and the civil war tale ‘Montani Semper Liberi” to “Roll Coal Roll” and the hard-driving “Boone County Blues.”
Although lacking the high part of the high-lonesome sound, Holstein evokes the sound and influence of the Stanley Brothers with two songs of particular note. “Clinch Mountain Hills” is as close to something Ralph and Carter might have done as any song that actually mentions the Stanleys. And the chilling a cappella dirge “Black Water” reflects back to the folk tradition, when true songs of tragedy and loss would pass news from community to community, much like the Stanleys’ songs did with “No Schoolbus In Heaven” and “The Flood.”
None of this is to suggest that Cold Coal Town is a depressing recording. It isn’t. It’s too refined and gutsy. It’s dark, but with driving instrumental work from a crackerjack supporting cast including Randy Kohrs, Scott Vestal, Aaron Ramsey, Clay Hess, and others, Cold Coal Town has an emotional impact that’s almost visual, as great music can do. Holstein has not only created a great recording, but also a fine work of art and a recording not to be missed. One of the best in a very long time. (Coal Records, 54 Gateway Cir., Mt. Juliet, TN 37122, AWIII

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