Coal Country is a southern gospel and bluegrass projects from Raleigh, North Carolina. The band consists of Paul Coleman and Kris Hixson in the studio, and they are joined by an assortment of guests when they play live. Most of the songs on their latest album, Lay My Crown, sound like they could fit right in on the soundtrack of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? (the two exceptions are the emotional "Mikey (Navy Seals Tribute)" and "Show the Way," which feature more somber acoustic sounds and vocals; they also sound a bit more like contemporary worship tracks). The rest of the songs are traditional southern-style praise songs, usually with skillful acoustic guitar (though none of the fast picking or banjo most commonly associated with a band that calls themselves bluegrass). The lyrics are full of worship and praise to our Savior, but they also do little to avoid lyrics that are either overused or feel like they came out of ancient hymns. There's also quite a bit of repetition amongst the sound of all of the songs. It's hard to tell some of them apart. Though, to their credit, the lyrics are somewhat overshadowed by the skillful instrumentation. I do enjoy hearing some positive bluegrass for a change, so I have to give Coal Country credit for that, and also for crafting an album that even fans of praise and worship may find themselves getting into right along with the bluegrass fans. My only suggestion would be a little more originality in the lyrics which would greatly affect the songs' quality. Otherwise, while Lay My Crown isn't great, it's rather enjoyable.
- Review date: 10/7/10, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com