Coyote Run,
Don't Hold Back
(Run Wild, 2003)

Coyote Run is an excellent example of cultural diversity. They hail from historic Williamsburg, Va.; their name is from the American Southwest; they perform traditional Celtic and folk music; and they record their music in Canada. While the roots of their inspirations are all over the map, they have a focused talent for narrative music. Coyote Run's songs range from serious and somber to light-hearted fun, and the continuity of strength is in their ability to convey a story.

If you want direct storytelling, there are gripping adventures such as "The Dragon of Cabo San Lucas" and "The Hunley." If you want subtlety and double-entendres, listen to "The Coyote Polka," which employs a goofy polka sound to expose the silly yet sad nature of prejudice, and "Dammit, Man," a funny look at addictive aggression leading to political revolution. Or if you prefer to wrench out your heart, you won't leave wanting. "Goodnight, Innocence" is a heart-breaking ballad about the juxtaposition of a man's innocent child to the horror of Sept. 11, 2001. There's also a tragic imagining of a possible victim of the 1999 sinking of the Russian submarine, the Kursk, in "Peter & Anya."

In reviewing this album, there are some nitpicky things that if singled out reveal some flaws. For example, lead vocalist David Doersch doesn't have the broadest range and sometimes struggles with higher notes. Yet taken in the broader context of musical storytelling, the vocal imperfections place the experience on a more approachable scale. (I guess there's a reason that this type of music is typically performed in pubs or small concert halls, while opera is limited to a distant stage in grand-scale concert halls.)

I have to admit that as you listen to this album, if you have any complaints, they will be obliterated by the absolutely wonderful rendition of Stan Rogers' "Northwest Passage." Steve, Dave and Gabe start off strong enough, but the arrival of the chorus will blow you away. The chorus is so fantastic that if I keep writing about them I'll need a thesaurus for more positive descriptions. This song alone is worth buying the album.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 8 May 2004

[ visit the artist's website ]