Tom Feldmann & The Get-Rites. Tribute, The Gospel Sides of…

Tom Feldmann’s previous albums, Driven To My Knees and Side Show Revival showcased his deep rootsy voice and a deliciously funky backwoods blues that is akin to Keb Mo and Taj Mahal in exploring the roots of Americana. In addition he appears to have a deeply held religious bent which has informed his songwriting, this has allowed him to mine the deep vein of spiritual and gospel traditions. Here on his latest album he pulls all of this together in a wonderful collection of spiritual songs originally recorded by the likes of Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, Charley Patton and others of that ilk.
Feldmann performs four of the ten songs solo, just voice and a National Reso-phonic guitar, the remainder have the band backing. Throughout the album his bottleneck and slide playing is excellent, at times sinister and threatening, at others joyful. The playing on Fred McDowell’s The Lord Will Make a Way is a particular standout, a deep dark throb of a song with stinging slide guitar and an evil lope. While the blues predominate there are sprightly and uplifting moments such as the solo rendition of Charley Patton’s Lord I’m Discouraged which has a Carter Family feel to it. The pedal steel on Leave It There (Washington Phillips) and I’m Going Home (Dock Reed) adds a gloss to the starkness of some of the songs.
Listening to this I was reminded of an old Fairport Convention tune, The Lord Is In This Place, How Dreadful Is This Place which in turn was informed by Blind Willie Johnson’s Dark Was The Night, Cold Was the Ground. Johnson himself is represented here with his song It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine and the album serves to remind us that God does indeed work in mysterious ways inspiring dirt poor, discriminated against Black Americans to find beauty in hardship.
For information on the songs, the artists who wrote them and Feldmann’s reasons for picking them go here where he has described the album far better than I ever could.
Listen to Needed Time (Lightin\' Hopkins)

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