Old Friend – New Music – John Cowan – The Messenburg Sessions
Ok so these last few months I’ve spent so much time looking for new musicians that I missed a new album by a favorite! Back in April, John Cowan released a new album The Massenberg Sessions. For this album John worked with mastering engineer George Massenburg known for his work with folks like Little Feat, Dixie Chicks, Linda Ronstadt, Randy Newman and others. The album was recorded live in the studio. There was no overdubbing or editing, and the musicians didn’t even use headphones. There was no mixing and the sound on the album came from the placement of the microphones and the instruments in the studio! The result is a great album!!
I’ve said before that for me there a few voices as great as John Cowan’s!! I loved it when he sang with the New Grass Revival and also his own band ! It’s one of those things, yes, he could sing the phone book and I’d probably love it!! Anyway thankfully, he has some great songs to work with and musically some help from friends including, Del McCoury, Reese Wynans and Maura O’Connell.
The album opens with a jump blues classic that I know from B.B. King “Caledonia”! All the tracks are great in their own way, some highlights for me include: “Black Blizzard” a song where Cowan’s voice soars accompanied only by Shad Cobb’s fiddle, a cover Paul and Linda McCartney’s ” Heart of the Country” (What that wasn’t a bluegrass song?). The Del McCourey Band joins John for a cover of Bill Monroe’s “Can’t You Hear Me Callin'”. I usually don’t like gospel tracks but again anything John sings sounds great and the a cappella version of “Jesus Gave Me Water” is great. Maura O’Connell joins John on a Cajun, Celtic version of the traditional song “Lakes of the Ponchartrain” The album ends with the beautiful Cowan and Jon Randall Stewart song “Soiled Dove”.
The album features some good picking but the center of it all is Cowan’s voice and on this album it is at it’s best. I know that the album is going to stay around on the player for a long time. So if you don’t know John Cowan’s voice do your self a favor and listen to what may be Cowan’s best album yet!! Hey, I’m listening to “Long Road Back to You” another great track! Did I cover every track yet?? No I missed this one “Carry On”!
Ok, so John Cowan is one of the VOICES I really love. Who are some of your favorite beautiful VOICES like Eva Cassady, etc??
Here’s John with “Jesus Gave Me Water”