Album review: Various Artists, “God Don’t Never Change: The songs of Blind Willie Johnson”

by Jon E. Lynch

Various Artists, “God Don’t Never Change: The songs of Blind Willie Johnson”

Available: Feb. 26 via Alligator Records on cd and, apparently, soon on vinyl

Blind Willie Johnson was a bluesman who had a somewhat truncated musical career and lived a life shrouded in relative mystery. That said, he left an indelible mark on rock ’n’ roll, the purveyors of it and popular culture as a whole. His recording career spanned a total of 30 songs between 1927 and 1930 for Columbia Records “leaving behind a priceless legacy of the unforgettable music he created by marrying the raw, gospel fervor of his voice with the steely blues fire of his guitar,” said Marc Lipkin of Alligator Records at alligator.com.

A slew of artists have already paid homage to Blind Willie in the past, most notably Clapton, Dylan and Led Zeppelin. On “God Don’t Never Change,” producer Jeffrey Gaskill (“Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan” and Pixies, “Sell Out”) taps a handful of contemporary artists whose influence is undeniable. Lucinda Williams has two cuts on the record alongside Tom Waits, who also gets a pair. When perusing the track list, only Sinéad O’Connor seems out of place … until you actually hear her version of “Trouble Will Soon Be Over.” I was pleasantly surprised, to say the very least. And by pleasantly, I do mean utterly.

Recommended if you dig Blind Willie Johnson, Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Cowboy Junkies or Blind Boys Of Alabama

— Jon E. Lynch[email protected]

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