Emily Duff. Hallelujah Hello.

a3538025104_16Following on from her successful foray into southern music on Maybe In The Morning, New York’s Emily Duff returns to the famed Fame studios in Muscle Shoals Alabama for another bite at the apple. In comparison to its predecessor, the album has more of a soulful gospel groove although that southern grit still hits hard. We had mentioned the likes of Bonnie Bramlett in our review of Maybe In The Morning and that comparison still stands while a host of singers, characterised as “southern soul belles” on one disc in our collection also come to mind. Names such as Betty Lavette, Irma Thomas, Etta James and Doris Allen, women who really were the equals of Redding and Pickett but who were sidelined at the time. Anyhow, that’s the pool that Duff is diving into and she comes back to the surface with some pearls.

The album gets off to a roaring start with the blistering southern rock of the title song which is scythed by its slide guitars while the chorus, with Duff supported by three singers, is rousing. It’s the type of song one wished Dylan might have recorded if he had ever stumbled upon the Allmans’ back in his Christian days. Next up is the biblical jaunt of Get In The Water which is just superb in the manner of The Staple Singers and it’s The Staples who are recalled again on The Day He Walked which is funky as hell (if you are allowed to say that in regard to a somewhat spiritual song). The spiritual bent is pursued on You Better Believe which is a foray into deep southern soul territory with a billowing horn section and female chorus rising above a rock steady Muscle Shoals rhythm beat with Duff really letting loose on the vocals. Trust The Lord follows a similar path but it’s more restrained, not so much southern swamp as southern church but Duff releases the dogs on the rollicking boogie of We All Need Saving Sometime, using some non biblical language here and there.

There are some contemplative moments. Jesus Loved This Tired Woman is set in a similar fashion to Kris Kristofferson’s early songs with its sly Dobro backing while Heaven Is Where I’m Bound comes across like a modern day Carter Family. Our favourite song here however finds Duff delving into Bobbie Gentry territory on the superb Eggs All Day. Here she captures the languid small town mind set one imagines of the south which is delivered with a sublime country backing, pedal steel smiling away.

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