The Traditional Songs
The other track not composed by Breiding is "The Singing Coal Miner," which is actually an archival recording from WSAZ-TV News in Huntington, WV. It's a nice little reminder that the stories told on this album actually happened to real people.
Breiding's Original Songs
Breiding has an excellent natural empathy and is able to tell these stories through the eyes of the miners without sounding at all forced. When he sings about the struggles of the miners, his voice embodies the range of emotions tied to the craft: frustration, exhaustion, fear, anger, dedication and submission.
Highlights and the Bottom Line
"The Bull Moose Special," one of the album's strongest songs, tells about a specific strike during which a miner was killed and Mother Jones helped to organize the miners. "Union Miner" is another highlight of the disc, announcing the dichotomous pride and frustration that comes with being a union miner.
Breiding is a fantastic songwriter, and an even more gifted performer. Despite the fact that he's singing more from the third-person, paying tribute to this history, there is nothing lost in the recounting of these stories. His lyrics are honest and empathic, and the instrumentation is outstanding. This is an excellent musical introduction to the plight of the Appalachian coal miner, and a wonderful addition to the coal mining songbook.