Myles Coyne & The Rusty Nickel Band find versatility in folk rock on new album

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No stranger to Milwaukee’s music scene as a singer/songwriter, Myles Coyne finally has pieced together a band that embellishes his folksy pop roots. After many lineup changes and trial performances, he’s created a group that reflects his vision. The album “Take Things As They Come” shows his hard work has paid off. Myles Coyne & The Rusty Nickel Band offers a respectable blend of folk, rock, pop, country and bluegrass by versatile musicians who seamlessly tread in and out of genres.

The album, which can be streamed at Bandcamp (mylescoyne.bandcamp.com), is scheduled for release on Aug. 3 at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn. It radiates a positive outlook even through songs dealing with death, abandonment, heartbreak, homesickness and depression. Originally a bass player, Coyne’s occasionally turbulent experiences with other bands, including Animals in Human Attire and Temple, find their way into some cuts.

The arrangements on the album are well thought-out, often building from acoustic intros and developing into rocking lead guitar solos that climax in danceable instrumental choruses. Frequently the band closes songs with sing-along kickers like, “Yeah, I know what I want.”

Coyne’s voice is dynamic – variously talky, melodic and shrieking. His most obvious influence is Bob Dylan. 

Album opener “My Grandmother’s House” begins with a bouncy drumbeat that swings its way from the ’90s into a rock/pop guitar lead. The lead fits nicely between the verses and has cosmic overtones reminiscent of Pink Floyd. Although the lyrics describe his regrets over missing his grandmother’s funeral, the music is optimistic – even danceable. The song ends with, “I’ll leave some pennies on your grave, so if the storm don’t bring me back, at least I know I’ve paid my dues.”

The title track is a different pace: A somber ballad that gradually uplifts to a bluegrass romp. Coyne asks his lover, “Would you hold me, dear? The bands breaking up/Well, you try so hard, I’m stuck in the mud.” But by the end, Coyne assures, “The shoes, they’re a walking / the shoes are still walking.” The song is a testament to his commitment to performing. It’s a surprisingly mature and motivating message from a 20-something. 

Another standout track is “About,” featuring backing vocalist Caley Conway. She has a sweet, versatile voice. In “About,” she weighs the pros and cons of love with self-contradictory observations, such as, “You’re the easiest person to love, and slightly more difficult to get ahold of.” She offers a refreshingly light, nuanced break from the band’s regular line-up.

“Chapter III” closes the album with an intimate piano session with Coyne. He ponders deep into a sleepless night in Riverwest thinking about close friends. It sounds as if he’s playing in a jazz parlor to an audience of people who are considering giving up. But Coyne preaches complacency amid distress. “Why would you want to leave so soon?” he asks.

Coyne ends on an intensely personal note, with the sounds of closing the piano, sniffling and shutting the door behind him. This melancholy closing from possibly the most enthusiastic man in Milwaukee betrays his character.

Overall, “Take Things As You Come” is a stand-out album that compares favorably with the Avett Brothers, The Tallest Man on Earth and other popular folk acts. It is a must-listen for any folk fan who enjoys nostalgia but is open to a millennial perspective. Coyne’s venting is smartly reflective. I hope he has enough guts to share more about being a traveler in life. 

On stage

Myles Coyne & The Rusty Nickel Band’s CD release show with Faux Fur and Calliope is at 9 p.m. Aug. 3 at Linneman’s in Riverwest. You can stream the album at mylescoyne.bandcamp.com. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/events/203067719848978.