Loosen up your overalls and kick off your boots: It’s been a long year.
The sad-eyed, broken-voiced alt-country of “The City Inside the Stone, Part One” seems to say all there is to say about Coarsegold, the Dying Californian’s third release for Santa Clara’s Turn label. Dying indeed; this opening track’s weary harmonica intro and mournful a cappella closing speak loud and clear: Loosen up your overalls and kick off your boots, it’s been a long year. But the raucous indie rock of “Second Shadow” is a new dawn, a Pavement-styled take on San Francisco’s tradition of gritty frontier-rock. From here, Coarsegold – so named after a town at the geographic center of California, where Berkeley-based lead singer and songwriter Nathan Dalton stumbled across his dusty muse – blends DIY obstinacy with Willie Nelson, Cowboy Junkies, and 29 other flavors of parched Americana. Dalton’s occasional guitar solo aims to free the listener of this forlorn funk, but by the album’s warm-hearted, full-circle conclusion – “The City Inside the Stone, Part Two” – any desire to escape has faded to empathy. — Nate Seltenrich