By Jof Owen
Taken from the unique forthcoming album from the 10-time GRAMMY Award-nominated producer, solo artist, and North Mississippi Allstars co-founder Luther Dickinson, ‘Beaulah Land’ is a timely spiritual and a unique document of togetherness in a world that often feels divided and in need of a little love.
“Our version of Mississippi John Hurt’s ‘Beulah Land’ is my favourite,” says Dickinson, explaining how Allison Russell and Yola came to be on the recording.
“Allison had just finished recording when Yola arrived for the evening dinner party. As soon as she walked in the door, I sat her down, handed her headphones, and hit record. Her spontaneous, first impression vocal performance, without ever hearing the track, instantly became my favourite moment of recording”.
“These days, if I am going to sing a spiritual song, I gravitate towards a non-specific, inclusive message and ‘Beulah Land’ speaks to the theme of the album and supports the Magic Music For Family Folk concept I wanted to share with my children”.
Where Gillian Welch’s version of the Mississippi John Hurt spiritual was stately and ethereal, Luther Dickinson, Allison Russell and Yola make it feel lighter and almost childlike, their voices joyfully harmonising with each other as a recorder and simply strummed guitar back them. You can hear the sheer delight of togetherness in the room on the recording.
‘Beulah Land’ is premiering exclusively on Holler below.
Dickinson’s new solo album, Magic Music For Family Folk, features his rendition of favourite songs from his childhood by The Meters, Staple Singers, John Lee Hooker, Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Watson and more. The album also includes guests Lillie Mae, Sharde Thomas, Sharisse Norman, as well as Dickinson’s Mother and Children.
“This collection of my childhood favorites was recorded for fun, at home, with family and friends, in the spirit of sharing” Dickinson explains. “As a new father, I needed music that my family and friends could enjoy that’s also suited to my funky taste and organic, acoustic aesthetic. Having daughters altered my listening habits and it was hard to find records that we all liked, so I had to make one”.
In a set up that sounds similar to Singin' In The Kitchen - Bobby Bare and The Family’s overlooked gem from 1974 - the bulk of the material on Magic Music For Family Folk was recorded in 2017 “during dinner parties, sleepovers and play dates”.
“I wanted to expose my kids to the joy of recording music”, says Dickinson. “So, we would invite friends over to the house and record, family style".
After burning rough mix CDs for the family car, Dickinson stowed away the project until earlier this year. Luther’s daughters initially recorded vocals for the album in 2017 and later overdubbed them this year. “Having my daughters sing along with their younger selves was a unique sensation and document of their youth", Dickinson says.
Luther Dickinson releases Magic Music for Family Folk on November 17th via Antone's Records/New West Records. Click here to order.