Rory Block From the Dust Telarc International
Aurora Block spent her first two releases for Telarc (2003's Last Fair Deal and 2004's Sisters and Brothers ) going from zero to eighty miles-per-hour where she is currently cruising comfortably on From The Dust. Miss Block's recordings have always been mixed affairs with sprite originals blended with well-selected and -performed war horses. From the Dust possesses an internal organization more fully formed here than on Block's previous recordings. From the Dust is a rural suite in three parts. In the erstwhile part I, Miss Block explores the Old Testament side of things in the gospel-inspired title tune, "One Way Down," The Gate," and "David Had the Blues." Collectively, these songs demonstrate Block's dead-on sense of timing in both her guitar playing and singing.
These first songs are all originals. "From the Dust" links the blues with its spiritual roots while "One Way Down" drives home the divinely normalizing effect of death on the matter of things. "The Gate" and "David Had the Blues" delve deep into the OT. The former has Block overdubbing her background vocals into a modern gospel amalgam. "David?" is a splendidly updated story of the Great King. Again, Block employs herself as choir, incorporating vocal techniques otherwise not used on this recording. "Big as Texas" is the comic relief from all of this religion. Miss Block's conversational singing style is at once engaging and down home?not to mention sexy as hell. Here there still remains a bit of the OT in the words "...then there's Texas / just when you're tired / just when you're through / just when you're wired / everyday you wake up and say / are we home there Lord? / no, we're still in Texas".
The middle section of this rural suite digs deep, back to the beginning of Blues recorded history. Charlie Patton's "Highwater Everywhere" spins the horror of Depression Era flooding in the Deep South. Muddy Waters's "I Be Bound" continues the preaching theme of the first part of this country suite. Block's best slide guitar is played here. Robert Johnson's most chilling composition, "Stones in my Passway" is played perfectly by Block. Her guitar is studied and illustrative of her blues scholarship. She sings with conviction and a certain rough reverence. Finally, Son House's "Dry Spell Blues" is dispatched with a driving, precisely slashing slide guitar.
The final part of Rory Block's suite is dedicated to the contemporary. If the first section is the Old Testament, the second The Apocalypse, then this final part is the postnuclear aftermath. "Fargo" is as much a tribute to the Cohen Brothers film of the same title as it is a sarcastic look at modern life in American. "Runaway Dog" is a meditation on Miss Block's pets. Again, her conversational singing style is captivating, making what might be dismissed as a silly piece of album fodder seem indispensable. "Take a Train" is infused with a deep shot of Soul into the muscle of the blues. The lengthiest piece on the disc is the six-plus-minute "Remember." Here, Rory Block shows offer her considerable slide guitar skills. Lyrically, she has finally made it to the New Testament. The disc closes with an instrumental "Unprecedented Quiet." This is a quite seminar on finger-style guitar picking. Ultimately, From the Dust is a spiritual journey, one that does not flinch.
Monday, February 28, 2005 Note. Dear Miss Block: your considerable talent and formidable slide stylings coupled with your deeply spiritual explorations on this recording beg the suggestion that you consider a Blind Willie Johnson recording. After this "Stones in My Passway," "Dark was the Night and Cold Was the Ground" would be a perfect next step.
Personnel: Rory Block (guitars, vocals)
Track Listing: 1. From The Dust; 2. One Way Down; 3. The Gate; 4. David Had the Blues; 5. Big As Texas; 6. High Water Everywhere; 7. I Be Bound; 8. Stones in My Passway; 9. Dry Spell Blues; 10. Fargo Baby; 11. Runaway Dog; 12. Take a Train; 13. Remember; 14. Unprecedented Quiet.
Monday, February 28, 2005 Note. Dear Miss Block: your considerable talent and formidable slide stylings coupled with your deeply spiritual explorations on this recording beg the suggestion that you consider a Blind Willie Johnson recording. After this "Stones in My Passway," "Dark was the Night and Cold Was the Ground" would be a perfect next step. Hopefully Submitted, CMB.
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