Dave Coleman and his cleverly named band, The Coal Men, are either very brave or impractically idealistic. Living in Nashville, the trio insists on making “really honest, genuine music.” On their fifth album, Pushed To The Side, they do just that.
Perhaps inspired by the unbearable irony of making genuine music in Nashville, the album focuses on those who are outcast or marginalized by society. Starting with the moody, atmospheric, “Depreciate,” The Coal Men create an extended metaphor for growing older. Comparing aging to buying a car, Dave sings, “the day you roll it off that line, you depreciate.” Leaving him to wonder, “will you put me out to pasture, let weeds grow ‘round my wheels?” His resonant baritone voice adds gravitas as he questions his own mortality.
Like the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons, The Coal Men are not afraid to wander off in the minor key, They embrace traditional County themes both musically and lyrically. They sing stories about coal miners (Willy Jett,) streetwalkers (Lilly Hurst,) cheaters (Faithless Eyes.) and those who have been “Pushed To The Side.” Coleman’s strong, yet vulnerable voice earnestly animates each character’s story with sympathy and style. The irresistible musical hooks make those characters stay with you long after the song ends.
The band also stretches its wings on several Rock infused songs like “Speeding Like A Demon,” “Fast Rider,” and the anthemic, Drew Holcomb-ish “The Payoff.” Singing, “the world is full of people capable of things you’d think nobody would be capable of,” Coleman sends a warning to those who open their hearts in pursuit of their art. With hundreds of wolves in sheep’s clothing (many in their own hometown of Nashville) promising to make you a star if you’re willing to play their game, Coleman adds, “no matter what you do, it may not pay off for you if the payoff is all you’re really in it for.” In short he is advising aspiring musicians to make “honest, genuine music,” – just like the music on this album.