The Coals ‘A Happy Animal’ - Self Release

An LA based band with their second release, an 8 track mini-album type of thing, that displays their overall sound to good effect. The play a blend of California country/folk/roots that has obvious antecedents. But the music stands or falls on the strength of the songs and they are good. Written, bar one co-write, by singer/guitarist Jason Mandell they are memorable, punchy and crafted. Mandell also produced the album and so, to a large degree, directs the band’s journey and makes it sound like a band rather than a singer and his backing band.

The album opens with a voice of a prophet of doom for Los Angeles before we find ourselves joint the singer in looking redemption of one sort or another. From then we take a different path for Dirt Road which has the joie de vivre of a hot New Orleans night. It’s not to long before were heading down south for the mariachi trumpet of Maria. A tale of an alluring object of desire. as respite songs like Hand To Hold and Let Me Down Easy take a quieter more acoustic approach that also highlight some easy harmonies among the band. The groove for Steal My Heart is set by Darice Bailey’s piano. Throughout her keyboard skills bring different textures to the band’s sound and vision. Baseline Blues bring hints of that titular branch of roots music into the mix which only serves to highlight the diversity that the band can bring to their music. Yet they give the whole set a cohesiveness due to their overall approach and the unifying strength of Mandell’s live-in voice and love-lost songs. On the strength of this release these Coals should burn bright.