Riverland Hits The Spot

Our review of the album from Eric Brace, Peter Cooper, Thomm Jutz

Eric Brace, Thomm Jutz, Peter Cooper (L-R) – photo: John Partipilo

Riverland is about Mississippi. The River or the State, you might ask? Well, very clearly BOTH are in the minds and sights of Eric Brace, Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz on this, their second record as a trio (out 1 February 2019 on Red Beet Records).

While Brace hails from Washington, Cooper is from South Carolina and Jutz grew up in Germany’s Black Forest, they know a thing or two about the subjects here in a warm, affectionate commentary that runs through the record like a tall glass of water on a scorcher of a day.

“There is a beauty to Mississippi’s brokenness,” writes Mississippi-reared musician Charlie Worsham in Riverlands liner notes. “Mississippi’s pain and Mississippi’s pride are irrevocably woven together, like floodwater and delta dirt. One could not have been born without the other . . . The men who made this album are not from Mississippi, but they are pilgrims, and they know. They know the magic of the Magnolia State, and they speak the truth.

Thirteen new compositions. Plus one telling cover – preacher Rev. Will D. Campbell’s “Mississippi Magic” which seems to get to the bottom of racism, or at least how to respond to it, in a little over 7 minutes. (Campbell’s friendship with country legend Tom T. Hall is explored in “Tom T. and Brother Will”)

Other subjects revolving around The Magnolia State and Old Man River are beautifully captured here and with a loving touch – General Ulysses S. Grant’s plan to take Vicksburg (“Down Along the River”), the Great Flood of 1927 (“Drowned and Washed Away”), renowned keelboat man Mike Fink (“King of the Keelboat Men”) and the adventures of a traveling mule (“Southern Mule”).

Brace, Cooper and Jutz have worked together in various guises for a decade. Brace and Cooper were Grammy-nominated for producing I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow, which featured greats including Bobby Bare, Duane Eddy, Patty Griffin, Jim Lauderdale and Buddy Miller.

Eric Brace led roots-rock band Last Train Home, manages Red Beet Records and has made music all his life. Peter Cooper is an author, has written for Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper, is now the senior director, producer, and writer for the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. He has worked, often in conjunction with Brace and Jutz, with Tom T. Hall, Nanci Griffith, John Prine and Mac Wiseman. Thomm Jutz became the single most successful ex-German songwriter in the history of bluegrass music and has been twice nominated as the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Songwriter of the Year.

There are no pyrotechnics here. It’s three talented guys with big hearts and even bigger musical ability coming together to put us in the frame. All three sing, write and play acoustic guitar effortlessly. There are a few carefully selected embellishments – Jutz (on resonator), Mark Fain (acoustic bass), Lynn Williams (drums), Tammy Rogers (fiddle), Justin Moses and Terry Baucom (banjo), and Mike Compton (mandolin). But these three principals are so good, they need nothing.

Riverland Track List 

1) River City
2) King of the Keelboat Men
3) Down Along the River
4) Drowned and Washed Away
5) Old Tom T. And Brother Will
6) Mississippi Magic
7) In the Presence of the River
8) Southern Mule
9) To Be a Steamboat Man
10) As Far As I Can See
11) It Might Be Hollywood
12) Uneasy Does It
13) Fort Defiance
14) Mississippi, Rest My Soul

Via Broken Jukebox Media

Our review of thealbum from EricBrace, PeterCooper, ThommJutz

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Author: Rob Dickens

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