Nashville’s favourite (possibly) Essex-born pedal steel guitar player Spencer Cullum returns with his eponymously titled Coin Collection Vol. 2.
One half of country twang duo Steelism, Cullum is a well kent face as a gigging musician for acts across the cooler side of country music’s mecca. He’s played and toured with the likes of Andrew Combs and Caitlin Rose (both featured on this LP) and now steps into the light as the main act in his own right.
The pedal steel guitar as an instrument is so synonymous with the country and folk genres that it’s hard to imagine it being played by someone not sat on a hay bale, probably just behind the banjo. But Cullum is a creative, modern advocate for the instrument. He puts it to mesmerising use across Coin Collection Vol.2. On the album highlight, an instrumental space jazz composition called The Three Magnets, the pedal steel is the underlying force pulling everything together for an altogether trippy experience.
But it is the variety of influences Cullum draws on which makes this record both captivating and comforting. The aforementioned Combs is given co-writing credits on songs Betwixt and Between, Cold Damp Valley and Kingdom Weather; with Combs’ penchant for a haunting harmony clearly felt on each. The guesting vocalists do much to add shades of colour to Cullum’s languid Romford vocal. Country folk chanteuse Erin Rae (on Betwixt…) and rising star Sean Thompson (Cold Damp Valley) layer texture on already charismatic songs.
At only 30 minutes, Coin Collection Vol. 2 is a breezy record which can just as easily feel like Ray Davies stumbling along the banks of the Seine in a Woody Allen film, as it can exploring some deeper questions, see opener What a Waste of An Echo, “To harbour all that hate, what a waste of an echo.”
Closer, The Same Day Departure with its running stream of water and undulating strings set us off downstream before we, hopefully, one day return for volume 3.