Like the steady pendulum of a land oil rig, Americana songwriter Kory Quinn has tapped inspiration—and greater purpose—with his new EP, Black Gold Blues. Sharp and critical, Black Gold Blues swings between misery and pride of the working class. On the EP, which drops February 10th, Quinn explores the complex relationships inherent in the immorality of modern capitalism and the individual purpose found in the work. For instance, “Oh, the work ain’t done,” he sings, “I’m better off to my master as a dead man’s son.” It’s this cognitive dissonance that lies at the heart of Black Gold Blues. With uncanny awareness, Quinn understands the exact point where two disparate paradigms collide and he speaks to that, turning a critical eye to everything from capitulation to fossil fuel use, the silent injustice of dead peasant insurance, the exploitation of fear to maintain the status quo, and the warrior paradigm inherent in police brutality.
Black Gold Blues was recorded in Portland, OR, at Rose Leaf Recording, where Quinn brought together famed blues drummer Jimi Bott and his band, The Quintessentials. Bott’s punctuations add a juicy heat to The Quintessentials, further defined by the mixture of David Lipkind’s electric harmonica with Quinn’s grimy vocals. The potency of this combination is most prominent on the opening track, “Black Gold Blues,” where the high moan of the harmonica slices throughout, interplaying with lead guitar and vocals, and stoking the embers of the slow, meandering groove. It’s all bolstered by the highly political lyrics; capturing the critical intent of Quinn, who’s rooted in a deep desire to elucidate injustices lyrically, but not at the expense of the blistering energy of his bluesy Americana. Each track seems a continuation of this energy and quality, with a continuity to be found in Quinn’s vision and the slow burn of The Quintessentials.
The Black Gold Blues EP comes full circle, with one of the last songs being “Last Broken Town,” a culmination of Quinn’s warnings and anxieties around the state of the world. Yet still, Quinn and The Quintessentials play with slip into that familiar, mirthful groove, underscoring again how the EP is able to embody two extremes.
Black Gold Blues bobs between the melancholy and the irrepressibility of humanity in the face of widespread corruption and exploitation, and the greater implications of society’s current reliance on oil and fossil fuels, corrupt political leaders, and fear. But even as it tackles such heaviness, it’s music is boisterous and driving, a perfect rallying call for humanity from the heart of a working man.