STYLE: Gospel RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 149658-21786 LABEL: Masterworks 88883740582 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
With 75 years of raising their voices in praise of Jesus there is little that the Blind Boys Of Alabama have left to prove. Those who have followed their career through the previous decades will insist that those screamingly intense recordings made in the '50s are the group's greatest musical achievements but their ability to take elements of the old quartet sound into the rock, pop, folk and blues worlds have ensured that they continue to retain their unique spot as old time gospel popularisers. Handing over production of the group to Bon Iver's Justin Vernon was a daring move but in the same way that putting another gospel veteran, Mavis Staples, with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, so 'I'll Find A Way' has proven to be the Blind Boys' best album for years. From the jazz flavoured reading of the old spiritual "My God Is Real" through to the upbeat, hill country shuffle of "I Shall Not Be Moved" the sound is truly timeless. The selection of guests brings something very fresh to the old, old sound. Shara Warden (who records under the name My Brightest Diamond) has long been a favourite among the art pop cognoscente and her vocal on "I'll Find A Way (To Carry It All)" glides effortlessly over the Boys' doowop style ooohs. Elsewhere Merrill Garbus brings some reggae bounce to "I've Been Searching" while Patti Griffin adds a dash of folk country to the hand-clapper "Jubilee". Even Vernon himself, who is not a Christian, is convincing when he trades verses with the Blind Boys' leader Jimmy Carter on a cover of Bob Dylan's classic "Every Grain Of Sand". Nearly every experiment and unlikely guest works well and is definite proof that there's still some gospel fire left in the old Boys.
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