Joanna MacGregor, Andy Sheppard - Deep River

Published Wednesday 12th March 2008
Joanna MacGregor, Andy Sheppard - Deep River
Joanna MacGregor, Andy Sheppard - Deep River

RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Sound Circus

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

The iconoclastic pianist Joanna MacGregor is the daughter of a preacher-man and grew up playing and singing gospel hymns and spirituals. More recently she has been exploring the Mississippi Delta in an attempt to "tread a path round all the songs and styles I grew up with." On this CD she duets with the saxophonist Andy Sheppard along with some unexpected guests. "Everybody Help The Boys Come Home", for example, includes a sample from the original by William and Versey Smith and "Up Above My Head" has an Alabama 3 re-mix. Nick Cave's "The Mercy Seat" is another unexpected success. For this reviewer the standout tracks are those where Andy Sheppard's saxophone lines follow the vocal part, allowing us to put the words back in. The traditional "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child" and "Deep River" work well, as do "Georgia Lee" and "Picture In A Frame" (both Tom Waits songs). However my favourite is "Spiritual" by Johnny Cash and Josh Haden and, dear reader, if this does not move you then you have no soul.

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