The Coals 'A Happy Animal' - Self-Release

The Coal's frontman Jason Mandell is the chief songwriter  as well as the band's lead vocalist and the producer of this 8 track mini-album and he has a voice that you want to listen to. It has a baritone resonance that has been likened to Jim Croce and I can see that and some other quick comparisons too. Suffice it to say Mandell has a lived-in feel that suits the folk/roots/country nature of the music the band plays. And it is a band;  the other five members of The Coals all contribute to the overall picture.

The tracks were recorded mostly live,  to try and capture the songs in a more personal way. Perhaps the stand-out is the south-of-the-border feel of Maria that is further enhanced by the mariachi trumpet of Ryan Ross. Elsewhere Mandell shares the vocal on Baseline Blues with Sally Dworsky and the two voices balance well. The vocal are strong,  with four of the band adding their backing vocals to the songs. 

Over the eight tracks they vary the mood and delivery in a way that leaves you wanting to hear more. The album opens with a voice predicting the destruction of Los Angeles and ends with a hope that the Lord will equally help keep the train of life on it's tracks. Earlier in the album on Redeem Me the subject of the song looks to be saved from himself. When traveling down a Dirt Road it's with a sense of uptempo hope and opportunity that suggest that redemption may be in reach. The piano, slide guitar and feisty beat suggest that they may indeed make it up the road that life has chosen. A sense of restlessness underpins that search and Hand to Hold sees the need to find another place and yet another hand to hold.

This L.A. band have spirit and heart, and on the strength of this sound to be pretty happy animals. They have produced a set of songs that makes me a happy human animal too.