Luther Dickinson and The Sons of Mudboy: Onward and Upward (2009)
Its material comprised largely of traditional spirituals, Onward and Upward is no abstract devotional but a personal testament. The wavering pitch of the singing in "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" is, for example, simply a sign of the spontaneity at the heart of this project. "You Got to Walk That Lonesome Valley" is a celebration of the independent life (such as Jim Dickinson lived) as much as "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning" is an ode to self-disciplinemuted, to be sure, but all the more heartfelt as all the singers and players join in.
Playing guitar and singing, Dickinson also wrote two pieces of his own for Onward and Upward. These tunes are as full of feeling as familiar traditional numbers such as "Glory Glory." "Let It Roll" is an instance of last-minute inspiration on the threshold of recording, and refers to more than just the tape recorders capturing the performances three days after the elder Dickinson's passing. Composed upon the death of Luther's grandmother, "Up Over Yonder" is subdued, as if catching the musicians in a moment of collective reflection. There is never a moment here, however, about the participants alone; the focus is directed squarely at the object of their reverence and respect.
Captured in no more than three takes and mastered directly from the two-track recordings free of any post-production, the emotion in the music, like the impetus behind the sessions, is true to the moment, with no self-consciousness. Onward and Upward is a project Jim Dickinson would be proud to have been part of and, in a very real sense, he is.
Track Listing: Let It Roll; His Eye Is On The Sparrow; Learning On the Everlasting Arms; Up Over Yonder; Softy and Tenderly; Back Back Train; Angel Band; Where the Soul of A Man Never Dies; You Got To Walk That Lonesome Valley; In The Garden; Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning; Glory Glory.
Personnel: Luther Dickinson: vocals, guitar; Sid Selvidge: guitar, vocals; Jimmy Crosthwait: washboard, vocals: Jimbo Mathus: guitar, mandolin, banjo, vocals; Steve Selvidge: guitar, dobro, vocals; Paul Taylor: washtub bass; Shannon McNally: vocals.
Record Label: Memphis International