STEVE EARLE and The DUKES – ” Ghosts of West Virginia “

Posted: May 5, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Steve Earle examines the physical strength and life-risking bravery of Appalachian miners in “Devil Put the Coal in the Ground,” the first preview of the singer’s new album, “Ghosts of West Virginia”. The follow-up to the Texas-born singer-songwriter’s 2019 Guy Clark tribute album, Guy, Earle and his band the Dukes’ Ghosts of West Virginia has roots in the New York theater community.

Earle was approached by playwrights Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, with whom he’d worked on The Exonerated, to collaborate on a play about the 2010 Upper Big Branch disaster in West Virginia, which killed 29 men. The finished work, Coal Country, features Earle as a kind of Greek chorus and opens March 3rd, with shows running through March 29th, at the Public Theater in New York. During a production of Coal Country, Earle sings seven of the songs that have been recorded for Ghosts of West Virginia, which also centers on the Upper Big Branch disaster. For composing around this theme, the famously liberal Earle challenged himself to write songs that would embrace and sympathize with people who may not align with him politically.

Steve Earle’s latest release — “Union, God and Country” — from his forthcoming album, Ghosts of West Virginia,

“One of the dangers that we’re in is if people like me keep thinking that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist or an asshole, then we’re fucked, because it’s simply not true,” he says in a release. “So this is one move toward something that might take a generation to change. I wanted to do something where that dialogue could begin.”

Over the course of the album, Earle examines hardship and loss, but also sets his sights on the mining company whose safety violations doomed the miners and the union-busting politicians who eroded their bargaining power. But in “Devil Put the Coal in the Ground,” Earle employs a heave-ho work-song rhythm to conjure the pride of working men as they descend into the mines. With a bluesy, hypnotic musical backdrop of banjo, droning fiddle, and pounding percussion, Earle drawls his lyrics in a way that almost sounds like a taunt: “The good lord gimme two hands/Says is you an animal or is you a man.” It transforms into a psychedelic guitar odyssey, thrilling and anxiety-ridden all at once.

Steve Earle’s latest release his forthcoming album, Ghosts of West Virginia, available May 22nd, 2020

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