Behold, how good and how pleasant for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity. —Psalm 133.
I will be damned if I know what biblical translation was used for this quote. But that is no matter. Three journeyman artists have joined forces to bring the sensual and the divine together under the same roof and celebrate them. Eric Bibb, Rory Block, and Maria Muldaur cast a new light on the spiritual and mostly with success.
Recordings like this frighten me because they always seem to be really good ideas and then fizzle out when the idea becomes kinetic. With one or two exceptions, Sisters and Brothers possesses some real religion, sharing it with the listener on the way. These three disparate vocalists, sharing only the blues come together to present the dirty gospel.
The opener, "Rock Daniel," is a Rosetta Tharp spiritual taken as a loose but effective a cappella. This song sets the earthy mood of the remainder for the recording. "Bessie’s Advice" is a sensual original made humid by Maria Muldaur’s smoky tone and Michael ward’s walking bass. "Lean on Me" takes on a decidedly more blues-soaked character with Ms. Block’s lead vocals, supported by Ms. Muldaur’s harmony. "Rolling Log" is an old Lottie Beaman tune reprised by Rory Block, containing a good bit of her trademark acoustic guitar. Rory Block continues to provide us with the significant and overlooked contributions of women blues singers of the ‘20s and ‘30s.
Eric Bibbs’ take on Bob Dylan’s "Serve Somebody" is soulful tribute and Jimmy Reed’s "Little Rain" provides Rory Block more exquisite blues fodder for her to transform. These songs project perfectly the collision between Saturday night and Sunday morning.