THE MINING CO. – Mountain Fires (own label)

As is increasingly fashionable these days, The Mining Co. is a one man band, although I believe he was once a trio, and that man is Michael Gallagher. Mountain Fires is his second album. The record’s packaging is pretty minimal so I have no idea who else is playing but it includes string and brass sections and a song like ‘Missing Parts’ is as rich as you could wish.

Michael’s essential style is Americana but, as he’s British, you might call it alt-folk, not a term I like much.  The opening track, ‘Julie’s Song’, is a proposal of marriage and I guess it was successful since Julie Gallagher gets a name-check on the cover. Michael pulls his voice up from somewhere in his boots and the arrangement is relatively sparse with some Dylan-ish cadences in the melody. The second song, ‘Closer’, could well be its follow-up as it celebrates a relationship and here Michael demonstrates a quite phenomenal vocal range.

Michael writes some fine lyrics and melodies but I sense a man who’d love to be fronting a stadium-filling band but, because of economic necessity, finds himself a soloist. The production, by Paco Loco at his Spanish studio, tends to overcompensate: the drums pound, a glockenspiel rings, there’s an electric organ and some very nice guitar playing. Plus an orchestra and choir which is fine for one big production number but gets a bit overwhelming when it begins at the third track and doesn’t let up. Fine songs like ‘Against The Grain’, ‘Valentine To Write’ and ‘Good Intentions’ can hold their own but are still in danger of being lost in the ocean of sound.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Mountain Fires’: