Eric Bolander has officially released the music video for “Cold Men” — chronicling the Blackjewel Miners protests in Harlan County, Kentucky in response to owed back pay.
This new single, produced by regular Bolander collaborator Duane Lundy (Sturgill Simpson, Ringo Starr) in Lexington, Kentucky, is a natural transition in Bolander’s catalog as a deeply-emotional protest song in an ever-tumultuous world. While it is based in the realities of a specific event, it serves as a cathartic microcosm of the pain so many have felt in the past year.
Sonically, Bolander’s music gallops through the crossroads of John Moreland and Bruce Springsteen (circa Devils & Dust), from rollicking explorations of struggle and its broken remnants to bitter, cynical prayers.
Bolander’s sensitivity to the human condition stems primarily from humble roots in the small eastern Kentucky town of Garrison, stretching at the edge of the Appalachian foothills and running along the Ohio River Valley. Growing up in a low income household instilled within him a sense of hard work and fighting for what he wanted in life. His mother was a homemaker (whose family had ties to several bluegrass legends) and his father a union carpenter and construction worker, both pivotal forces behind his early development.
Bolander didn’t get around to actively pursuing a music career until his freshman year of college. A lifelong close friend had a guitar and would occasionally show him various chord structures. Soon, Bolander snagged a cheap Ibanez electric guitar, and later a cheap Dean acoustic guitar to learn on. Stricken with an ache for live performance, he began jamming around town in various collectives, but again, it took him some time before he made the decision to step up to the microphone himself.
In his spare time, he began to scrawl down various lyrics or melodies for potential material for the band, but his sensibilities were leaning quite heavily into the blues-folk arena, a mold that didn’t quite satiate his metal or rock status. His first EP, Unapologetic, emerged from those songwriting sessions, and it was quickly evident he needed to branch off on his own, permanently.
His first proper full-length album, Postcards to Myself, arrived in 2016, further blurring the lines between his brawny rock-country blend. As you can already surmise, Bolander’s influences run far and wide, from the thick grunge-rock of Alice in Chains and SoundGarden to the rootsy traditions of Don Williams, Earl Thomas Conley, Keith Whitley and George Jones. He contributes his biggest contemporary influence to John Moreland.
Now an art teacher by day and guitar-slinger by night, Bolander gallops ferociously into the countryside with his sweeping Americana record. 2019’s The Wind was at its very core a collection of authentic outlaw country tunes, and these new songs continue to carry that torch further as Bolander works toward a third full-length.
Skirting the line of braggadocious storyteller and heartfelt poet with remarkable ease, he stands firmly in the empty space somewhere between Bob Sumner and Jamie Lin Wilson, adhering to the same honeyed charm but with plenty more centripetal force. Without a doubt, Bolander is damn well ready to soar on his own.