BLUES AND BALLADS (A FOLKSINGER’S SONGBOOK)
VOLUMES I AND II
NEW WEST RECORDS
VOLUME 1: HURRY UP SUNRISE–UP OVER YONDER (FEAT. J J GREY)–BANG BANG LULU–MOONSHINE–JACKSON–MEAN OLD WIND DIED DOWN–HOW I WISH MY TRAIN WOULD COME–AIN’T NO GRAVE (FEAT. MAVIS STAPLES)–LET IT ROLL–MY LEAVIN’
VOLUME 2: HORSESHOE (REPRISE)–HIGHWATER (SOLDIER)–AND IT HURTS–STORM–MOJO MOJO–OL’ CANNONBALL–DEVILMENT–BLOW OUT–MAYOR LANGFORD BIRMINGHAM BLUES–SHAKE (YO MAMA)–HORSESHOE
Luther Dickinson has been immersed in the sounds and stories of the North Mississippi Hill Country his whole life. The sound he has developed is his take on the music of R. L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Otha Turner, his father, the late Jim Dickinson, and all the others who were associated with the Fat Possum label. With his latest album for New West, Luther pays an emotional and powerful tribute to those who guided and mentored him, and many of his contemporaries join to help him create “Blues And Ballads (A Folksinger’s Songbook) Volumes I And II.”
The all-acoustic affair brings forth songs that Luther has written during various stages of his development as an artist, many seeing the light of day for the first time. First up is a sweet, playful duet with fife master Otha Turner’s granddaughter, Sharde Thomas, “Hurry Up Sunrise.” Lillie Mae Rische adds fiddle on a good country-blues tune, the rollicking “Bang Bang Lulu.” Jimbo Mathus is on banjo on the “endless boogie” of “Shake (Yo Mama),” and Luther doles out a “history lesson” of sorts with “Mayor Langford Birmingham Blues,” with Lillie Mae again supplying fiddle.
Songs dealing with death and the afterlife are also prevalent on this disc. J. J. Grey and Luther give a sweet read on that ultimate trip, “headed Up Over Yonder,” with Jason Isbell on slide guitar. On perhaps the set’s most powerful cut, Luther pays a touching tribute to his father Jim with the help of Mavis Staples, “Ain’t No Grave hold his body down!”
There is so much excellent material on “Blues And Ballads (A Folksinger’s Songbook) Volumes I And II,” that one needs to grab a copy and determine for yourself which are your favorites. For Luther Dickinson, it is clearly a labor of love as he shares this piece of his life’s rich history with us! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.