Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir
Title: Ten Thousand
Catalogue Number: Balling the Jack
Review Format: CD
Release Year: 2008
The inimitable Mojo Nixon once proclaimed that we "gotta gotta gotta gotta have more soul!" Now, without engaging in a theological battle with myself, I think it's fair to say that the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir play with soul, albeit soul twisted, perverted and most definitely drunk. This, the third release from the Canadian quartet, is more Mississippi delta than metropolitan Calgary. You can almost hear the whisky jugs and fornication undertones in the background.
"Go Back Home" sounds is a snarling warning cry to the prodigal son. The preacher has lost his way and there's no hope left for you. "You Got It Wrong" sounds like The Pogues circa Red Roses For Me, with Tom Waits drafted in to help things along. This band has done their bit on this album to, rightly, counter a common misbelief about a lack of scope for invention in folk music.
As with many a sweat-soaked folk group, vocal duties are shared and this, as usual, creates a wild, almost tribal sound. There's little of interest as far as the lyrics go in the album, but the group's hard-hitting approach to blues and bluegrass more than makes up for it. I mean, who needs to sing anything - anything coherent - at a hoedown?
The band also pays respect to the bluesmen of old, offering a fairly standard rendition of Sleepy John Estes's "Stop That Thing", as well as a hoarse version of Son House's "Empire State Express".
Believers and non-believers alike, so long as you have the faintest jot of interest in folk music, this album should be a part of your collection. If possible, purchase the album with a bottle of Wild Turkey for good measure.
Also available by worldwide mail order from CD Baby.
Reviewer: Peter McGee
August 3, 2008
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