A Miners’ Town
Reviewed by Stephen Krock
As you step into Marc Silver’s A Miners’ Town, you are immediately greeted with a strong, dusty breeze rolling tumbleweeds across the street and an overwhelming sense of epic Americana. The folk/bluegrass singer/songwriter’s latest album opens with the title track acting as a sort of troubadour welcoming you to an old shale mining town where “between the alleys, old homes crackle in the smoldering fires, burning all the things that were made from love inside.” Those words should tell you what to expect in this town: vocal, lyrical and orchestral poetry. Even more to Silver’s credit, you can expect the unexpected. The compositions and song structures are excitingly unpredictable and you can never tell where the next track to going to take you. Each one has its own heartbeat, achieving what is oh so rare. An album where no two songs sound the same. There is no filler and no downtime. A Miners’ Town is an emotional storytelling masterpiece.
When you leave the perfect opening track, in which you first see this supposed town, you’re then introduced to the unsettlingly human souls that inhabit it. “The Great Machine,” is a listless, but powerful second track. We continue to longingly explore the demons of this town from the somber “All We Are” to the head-banging, heart-thumping “Fools and Foul” and “New Rising Sun” and finally to the unspeakably beautiful “In Colorado.” These figurative demons take more corporeal form as Silver explores religious prosecution and the battle for equal rights in “Priest.” The sentiment lingers on in the instrumental “Oh Shadow” and into the album’s darkest entry, “Ghosts and Graves.” All the struggles described are heartbreakingly real and fit like puzzle pieces into this crumbling American town. It’s not all black rain clouds, however, as we are left with rays of sunshine in the form of the short, but sweet, “Come Out Come Out” and the hopeful “No Gates Shall Withhold Him.” Unfortunately, the latter is the weakest song in the lineup, in that we have heard songs like it before. Whereas everything preceding it is its own entity.
While Silver’s comforting vocals could easily carry the story on its own, he is rarely unaccompanied by honey covered harmonies. It creates a clearer visual of all of the town’s broken-by-life citizens. I loved A Miners’ Town and as soon as I left, I couldn’t wait to visit again.