Erik Vincent Huey has a new album out, Appalachian Gothic, produced by Eric Ambel, recorded and mixed by Mario Viele and Eric Ambel, and mastered by Richard Dodd.
This album is autobiographically based, as Huey’s songwriting and the arrangement by Ambel explore the range of life in a small rural coal mining town – from stories a grandfather told, to kids overdosing, a man losing a woman just as he was finally ready to sober up for her, drinking too much, men leaving families, and more.
The album opens with a dulcitar ringing out, playing a lonesome melody, and the album, by way of “Appalachian Gothic,” the title track, is underway. Next up, “Winona” has electric guitar hooky melodies and a catchy refrain “Why Winona, why why Winona?” as he laments the one who got away just as he finally sobered up for her.
“You can’t drink all day if you don’t drink in the morning… and it don’t mean a thing unless you’re drinking all night long…” a more amusing, tongue in cheek assessment of the realities of alcoholism. “Dear Dad” is a song of abuse and abandonment as Huey wears a bit more of his heart on his sleeve — “he taught me all about what not to do when I became a man.”
“The Devil’s Here in These Hills” is bright guitar tones and the imagery of the back breaking working of making ends meet every day down in mines of West Virginia.
“A Heart Disease Called Love” features Steve Berlin of Los Lobos on saxophone in the only cover song on the album (by John Cooper Clark) in a lyrically layered song of breakup and betrayal — “what was I thinking of”?
The album is a rockin’ electric affair and the spotlight shifts from element to element of life in a rural Appalachian mining town. Well worth checking out.
Musicians on the album are Erik Huey on vocals and spoken word; Eric Ambel (Bottle Rockets, Jimbo Mathus, Yayhoos, Sarah Borges) on guitar, dulcitar, lap steel, baritone guitar, cajon, harmonica, hand claps and backing vocals; Jeremy Chatzky on bass; and Kenny Soule on drums, with additional appearances by Keith Christopher (bass), Andy York (guitar), Neil Thomas (accordion), Cody Nilsen (pedal steel), Rob Arthur (piano) and drummer Phil Cimino. Guests include Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) on baritone saxophone and Laura Cantrell on vocals.
Check out our previous coverage here: Interview: Erik Vincent Huey Brings Coal Dust To “Appalachian Gothic” and here: Show Review: Erik V. Huey/Starbelly at Pearl Street
photo by Michael Aarons