The band’s greatest strength is their originality. Eleven of the twelve songs contained on this project were written by members of Appalachian Smoke. The opening track, Carolina Calling Me, penned by banjoist Mikel Laws, is a great straightforward song about yearning for the place you call home.
Hope For The Harvest, as well as the album’s title track, Colder Side Of Love, were both written by mandolinist BJ Taylor. The former describes the grueling hours of working on a farm while the latter explores the familiar theme of a dissatisfied woman leaving her lover.
Starlight, the lone instrumental piece on Colder Side Of Love was composed by guitarist Jamie Mason. Mikel Laws’ banjo work on this track really shines, but Mason, BJ Taylor, dobro player Kenneth Rymer, and bassist Tim Williams also make great contributions to this tune.
In That Morning is the sole gospel piece, and the only track not written by members of Appalachian Smoke. Performed a cappella, this public domain spiritual captures the group’s smooth vocal harmonies wonderfully.
The tracks that stand out most on Colder Side Of Love are Katie Did and Reverend’s Affair, both of which are story songs written by BJ Taylor. The former is a really moving piece about a Vietnam soldier and the woman he loves, while the latter tells a really dark tale about a man discovering his wife’s romantic involvement with his brother, who happens to be the minister that officiated their wedding. The lyrics are captivating and will leave the listener on the edge of their seat, bringing this album to a dramatic close.
Colder Side Of Love is a strong debut. Not only are the members of Appalachian Smoke great vocalists and musicians, but their original songs are well crafted both from a lyrical and melodic standpoint. If the group sticks to this formula, we will be hearing about Appalachian Smoke for a long time to come.