Really interesting project here. Those of you who know Martha Redbone may be more familiar with her funk, soul, R&B and rock-influenced sounds. And while that’s a part of who she is, she’s also an artist who’s won awards for mining the Native-American side of her identity (she’s part Shawnee and Choctaw). Knowing that, it’s less of a stretch to find her doing an album that’s set squarely in the heart of Appalachia.
Her current project, five years in the making, takes the words of the Romantic poet William Blake (1757-1827) and sets them amidst an Americana landscape of “swampy slow grooves, ancient chants, field hollers and gospel mayhem”. At first glance, it might sound odd, but upon hearing it, you realize it works. The songs, swirled in folks, country, gospel and blues are made timeless and relevant. According to a press release, Redbone had this to say about Blake:
“Blake teaches us that the imagination is a portion of the divine principle, and that ‘Energy is Eternal Delight,’ and ‘everything that lives is holy’. These are songs that celebrate community, empathy and love, messages the world desperately needs at a time of atomization, emotional disconnect, and widespread hardship.”
It’s worth noting what’s probably been an ongoing reclamation of American roots music by Redbone, as well as artists such as the Carolina Chocolate Drops, former Chocolate Drop Justin Robinson, Lizz Wright, Kamara Thomas & others too numerous to name.
Check out the song, and let us know what you think!