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The Coal Porters: Find The One

Haringey hillbillies.

One of the pioneers of alt-country (with his first band The Long Ryders), Kentuckian ex-pat Sid Griffin has set out his stall in London for the last 20-odd years.

Something of an acknowledged expert in the milieu of the Laurel Canyon scene – and author of a few key texts on Dylan, The Band and Gram Parsons – Griffin can also claim the creation of another new genre to his canon: alt-bluegrass, or ‘newgrass’.

Entirely acoustic and largely breakneck, the virtuosity and interplay on offer here is likely peerless. Crisply produced by John Wood (Fairport, Nick Drake), the fingerpickin’ fury is tempered with a folky sensibility occasionally reminiscent of Alison Krauss or Levon Helm.

Richard Thompson lends extra kudos on Hush U Babe, and dynamic cover versions of Heroes (campfire style) and Paint It Black (hoedown incorporating sitar) give substance to the notion of a strong rock pedigree bubbling just below the surface.