Marc Cohn and Blind Boys of Alabama Work to Do
Published Aug 06, 2019A seamless collection, Work to Do is a collaboration between folk-pop master Marc Cohn, producer John Leventhal and vocal gospel giants Blind Boys of Alabama.
Gestated as a three-song studio EP, the project was wisely expanded to include live performances culled from a broadcast of PBS's The Kate. Two new Cohn songs — "Work to Do" and "Talk Back Mic" (co-written with Leventhal) — allow Blind Boys of Alabama (the vocal quartet of Eric 'Ricky' McKinnie, Ben Moore, Paul Beasley, and Jimmy Carter, with musical director and guitarist Joey Williams) to maintain their high standard of gospel performance.
The uplifting "Work to Do" and "Walking in Jerusalem" speak to the foundations of the Blind Boys' music. Playfully, "Talk Back Mic" incorporates recording studio phrasing as spiritual messaging; their engineer is always available for conversation.
Cohn comes to the fore with the concert tracks, recorded last year in Connecticut. Cohn's most familiar songs, including "Walking in Memphis," "Silver Thunderbird" and "Ghost Train" are elevated through soulful vocal alliance. Naturally, Cohn's piano is prominent, and an intense version of "Listening to Levon" is perfection.
Blind Boys of Alabama's unique arrangement of "Amazing Grace," led by octogenarian Carter and the centrepiece of their "breakthrough" album Spirit of the Century, remains as magical as when it debuted.
Documenting a multi-year partnership between innovative artists, Work to Do is a highlight of the summer. (BMG)