You don’t have to be a believer to appreciate the music of the Blind Boys of Alabama or the message of faith, redemption and devotion they espouse, but it’s also likely that once you listen to their newest opus, I’ll Find a Way, you’ll feel a new surge of spirituality. It’s a credit to this venerable vocal group that even despite the obvious effort to bring them to a knowing Americana audience — courtesy of cameo appearances from such notables as Justin Vernon of Bon Iver (who produced this set),Patty Griffin, Megafaun‘s Phil Cook, Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, Sam Amidon, and My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden – the Blind Boys reaffirm their traditional MO with a profound combination of gospel hymns and reverberating revelry.
It’s a credit to all concerned that those contemporary elements infused in I’ll Find a Way, the latest in a string of albums that’s brought them renewed appreciation over the past decade or so, meld so seamlessly with the traditional tack the group’s various incarnations have pursued since its first formation in the late 1930s. Indeed, as an ensemble that’s witnessed the horrors of racism, the turbulence of the ‘60s and more recently, the inauguration of a black president, the ability to change and adapt has been a constant. Yet, it’s something of a wonder that a century- old song like the rousing “Take Your Burden to the Lord and Leave It There” is virtually indistinguishable in tone and tenacity from a fervent original “I Am Not Waiting Anymore” or Bob Dylan’s “Every Grain of Sand,” here turned into a solemn spiritual that’s sung with exceptional eloquence.
Other covers of note include a cover of the Chi-Lites’ “There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated at the Conference Table),” a song that, sadly, is still as relevant as ever; the enduring gospel standard “Take Me to the Water,” featuring the sextet’s new newest member Paul Beasley contributing his soaring and stately falsetto; and perhaps the most unlikely entry of all, a cover of Field Reports’ “I Am Not Waiting Anymore,” recast with brassy fanfare and a Crescent City shuffle.
For more than a decade The Chigger Hill Boys and Terri have been largely overlooked by both the Gospel and bluegrass communities, maybe because the band doesn’t have a superpicker and has relied so much on original material instead of recording old favorites. In spite of their limited exposure, though, the band has managed to rack up numerous Dove award nominations and has seen some success on radio stations and syndicated radio shows that do play their type of music.
On Indescribable, the group’s sixth album (not counting Gospel compilations they’ve appeared on alongside the likes of Johnny Cash and Alison Krauss), the band once again showcases its fine lead singer, Terri Argot Gore, and depends on solid bluegrass instrumentation and vocal harmonies to produce a highly listenable album that doesn’t compromise when carrying the message of the Gospel. This time, however, the band has gone a little more contemporary by covering the works of such Christian acts as Chris Tomlin, Hillsong, and British praise and worship songwriter Stuart Townend.
Agnes Obel’s pristine, delicate 2010 debut, Philharmonics, was an unexpected platinum-selling sensation in her home country of Denmark, and a hit throughout Europe. The sudden fame left her reeling, and on Aventine, the classically trained pianist/singer has tried to make sense of things. Accompanied mainly by a single cellist, she has created a quiet, watchful record – a response to having spent 18 months in “a blur” of touring. The lyrics are impressionistic sketches (on Fuel to Fire, she sighs: “Roses on parade, they follow you round”), suggesting she saved the real firepower for the exquisite arrangements: sculpting strings and piano into beautifully melancholy ripples. Like Ane Brun and Seventh Tree-era Alison Goldfrapp, Obel is exceedingly good at conveying weariness and disorientation through sound: Run Cried the Crawling’s pizzicato-plucked cello and otherworldly violin-swoops evoke the desolation of being awake at 3am, as do The Curse’s precise droplets of strings and vocals. A wonderful autumn album.
Tracks: 1. Make Some Noise 2. Uncle Jack 3. Keeper of Abbeys 4. Leopards 5. Swan Hunter 6. Seen Better Days 7. Edgelands 8. The Lovers 9. Curator of Butterflies mp3 320 kbps | 109 MB | UL | TB | CL
It’s easy to hear why Lucinda Williams (who contributes harmonies here to the haunting “Hellfire Raiser”) is such a fan of Australian transplant Annie McCue. Both draw inspiration from country, blues, folk, and classic rock in material that can have a hard edge and a tender heart, with lyrics that show a writerly eye for […]