Levon is back! June 30 marks the official release date of Electric Dirt (Dirt Farmer Music/Vanguard), the second solo outing in Levon Helm‘s remarkable comeback, after 2007’s Grammy-winning Dirt Farmer record. Expanding upon the acoustic-folk arrangements and down-home themes of Dirt Farmer (his first release in 25 years and following a very rough bout with throat cancer), he has mined the rich veins of American gospel and blues to resurrect the spirit of The Band in this triumphant songbook.
Along with Levon’s ancient vocals and rootsy drums, Electric Dirt (a title that references Muddy Waters’ album “Electric Mud”) sports horns and harmonies that take the listener on a Southern journey through material from Jerry Garcia, Muddy Waters, Carter Stanley, and Randy Newman, as well as compositions from Levon and producer Larry Campbell, who also plays many of the stringed instruments. Levon is again joined by daughter Amy Helm on beautifully soulful backup vocals, and bandmates from Ollabelle as well.
Levon once said that what the Band did was take traditional American music and cut the beat in half. Um… did we mention that they also they reset the bar for American music? “Electric Dirt” uses that proven recipe to show that the spirit of The Band is alive and well in the music of Levon Helm.
It might not be what we call folk music around here, but it’s damn good stuff, as rootsy as black Mississippi mud, and worth a listen. Here is a new song from Electric Dirt, along with a “making of” video and an old clip of the Band in their prime. Enjoy!