Songwriting legend Steve Earle released his latest album, The Ghosts Of West Virginia on May 22, and Benji had the chance to talk about to the songwriter in a recent Zoom interview.
On the album, Earle tells the story of the 2010 Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion in West Virginia. That event saw 29 workers perish, and sets the groundwork for an album rooted in spirituals, gospel, and Appalachian music.
Earle recorded the album with the Dukes at Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village. Thematically, the album unfolds across a multitude of story-lines and characters, making it one of the most theatrical releases of his career.
“I came to New York to make music for theater, and it’s taken a long time,” Earle said in a release. “Theater is a powerful thing. It’s my favorite art form.”
On “It’s About Blood,” Earle honors all of those who lost their lives in the incident, shouting out the names of the 29 men who died in the explosion. Not one to shy away from controversial topics, the often politically-outspoken Earle uses this album to find common ground.
“And the way to do that – and to do it impeccably – is simply to honor those guys who died at Upper Big Branch,” he said.