Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rev. Dan Smith - Unfinished Business

I do not know much about the good Reverend, other than what the brief liner notes tell me - he was born in 1911, died in 1994, sang and played harmonica, was passionate about the Gospel and these tracks were recorded shortly before his death. The recordings sound modern - in that the sound itself is crisp and clear - but Rev. Smith sounds timeless. He was ill during these sessions, but he still sounds vital, with his voice reminiscent of Gary Davis, and his harmonica playing is superb, reminding me of Sonny Terry.

The songs themselves are a mix of gospel, blues and bluegrass, with the Reverend's vocals and (acoustic) harmonica leading and dominating. But the background instrumentalists add quite a bit, with Michael Hakanson-Stacy's mandolin, guitar, dobro, lap steel and vocals (as well as liner notes) along with nice background vocals (Leslie Smith and Rusty Annis predominately) and other guitars and keyboards.

I wish I could find some of this man's earlier work, though this is all that I see that is currently available. In the meantime, this is some beautiful music that combines some of my favorites styles.