Every now and again the forces that are wandering freely align and give a voice to someone who can use it to make music that is relevant and just seems to capture the essence of the times with a magical moment that is captured on a recording device. Shannon McNally was forced to leave her adopted home in New Orleans and wound up in the hill country of the Mississippi Delta near the legendary Jim Dickinson and she got him to play keys on this (it is one of the last recordings) recording made at his Zebra Ranch Studio. This is up in that country where the flat lands of the delta begin to rise and come up into hills and hollows, where the hard blues of the Delta meet the funky soul of Memphis and all of these forces cross-pollinates with country music. This is the fifth disc McNally has done, the first one she has produced, and it is an absolute gem. She wrote five of the eight songs, covered a couple that were first done by Waylon Jennings and a wonderful cover of Dylan's Positively 4th Street.
The production is clean and spare and yet at the same time very full and rich, and the band is so crisp and right on it is hard to imagine they have not been together for years. Besides Jim Dickinson's wonderful keyboard work she has Eric Deaton on guitars, Jacob X. Fussell on bass, Wallace Lester on drums, and she is stretching out more and playing a lot more lead guitar solos. However with her it is the voice that delivers the package. It is as sharp and pointed as ever, and has that ability to soar to heights and drop down to almost a strong whisper that carries both intimacy and strength. Listen to the almost ethereal ballad Bolder than Paradise, a tune that slowly builds in to a graceful vocal intensity that is punctuated by Deaton's guitar riffs, that is of other worlds. Hopefully this disc will give her the recognition she deserves, it is a stunning work that deserves to be heard.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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