Published Sep 18, 2018In the process of recording This Too Shall Light, Amy Helm launched out of her comfort zone. Pushed by her producer Joe Henry (Joan Baez, Billy Bragg) she left her home base of Woodstock, NY and travelled to Los Angeles to record this collection of original songs and covers — each of which she had minimal practice with in order to save their power for recording.
The separation from amenity worked. Helm's latest album unites flavours of soul, Americana, and folk with emotional depth and layers of harmony. Electric guitars punctuate the melodies with a touch of blues (as on her cover of Allen Toussaint's "Freedom for the Stallion"), and the organ makes a weighty appearance on the bass-heavy "Long Daddy Green" and the upbeat gospel celebration of "The Stones I Throw." The influences here run deep, providing comfort among the risk.
But at the heart of This Too Shall Light is Helm's vocal performance, which swings between grand ("This Too Shall Light"), sweet and careful ("Heaven's Holding Me") and chorus-leading (the a cappella "Gloryland"). On the songs she has written and those she has covered (Milk Carton Kids' "Michigan") her voice becomes the light to which the album title alludes.
This Too Shall Light is Amy Helm's second album outside of her group Ollabelle, proving further that risks pay off when you put your soul into it, and even within the unfamiliar, there is always light. (Yep Roc)