I'll Find a Way

I'll Find a Way

by Five Blind Boys of Alabama



Justin Vernon may seem a curious choice to produce a Blind Boys of Alabama record. But adventure has been the group's M.O. during the 21st century, as they've collaborated with musicians of almost every stripe, with varying degrees of success. I'll Find a Way was recorded over four days at Vernon's Wisconsin studio, with arrangements and musical direction from Phil Cook played by a handful of players, and hosting an array of contemporary vocalists including Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), Casey Dienel (White Hinterland), and Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs), among others. The Blind Boys -- Jimmy Carter, Eric "Ricky" McKinnie, Joey Williams, Tracy Pierce, Ben Moore, and newcomer, high tenor Paul Beasley -- made the trek. Longtime bass singer Clarence Fountain, unable to travel due to illness, added his vocals from Birmingham. Five of the set's 11 tracks feature the group performing solo with backing musicians. The BBs expertly spin the country gospel chestnut "God Put a Rainbow in the Cloud," as if it had been part of their songbook forever. The traditional "Take Me to the Water," (based on Nina Simone' arrangement) led by Beasley's falsetto, is among the most moving things here. Its arrangement is adorned simply by a tuba, upright bass, piano, and a drum kit. Dienel and Carter deliver a chilling cover of the Chi-lites' "There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is at the Conference Table)." Despite the drum loops that underscore its rhythm section, Cook's dignified piano and the organic percussion point directly at the frontline singers, whose voices contrast beautifully. They are elevated by the BB's choruses and Mike Lewis' soulful tenor saxophone solo. Garbus and the BBs offer a deft lover's rock reggae read of the spiritual "I've Been Searching." The title track, written by the late, obscure Detroit guitar/sitar master Ted Lucas, is the album's finest moment. The arrangement is modeled on the Band's setup circa Big Pink, and frames Worden's throaty yet otherworldly alto. Her phrasing uncovers subtlety in the lyric; her body and spirit are fully invested. The BB's expansive harmonies plumb the emotional depths in the codas and chorus. When Vernon layers her soprano range into the backdrop, a melody worthy of Motown reveals itself. Patty Griffin and the group jar it all loose on Charlie Parr's house-rocking "Jubilee" to close it on a rousing note. There are things that don't work here: there are stilted, wooden arrangements that mar "I'm Am Not Waiting Anymore" with Sam Amidon, and Vernon's duet with Carter on Bob Dylan's "Every Grain of Sand." Otherwise, I'll Find a Way is a fine, if uncharacteristically restrained, Blind Boys of Alabama recording.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/30/2013
Label: Masterworks
UPC: 0888837405829
catalogNumber: 374058

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Blind Boys of Alabama   Primary Artist
Clarence Fountain   Group Member
Paul Beasley   Group Member
Patty Griffin   Vocals
Mike Lewis   Bass Guitar,Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Hand Clapping,Upright Bass
J.T. Bates   Percussion,Drums,Snare Drums,Hand Clapping
Sam Amidon   Vocals
Shara Worden   Vocals
Joey Williams   Electric Guitar,Group Member
Tracy Pierce   Bass Guitar,Group Member
Casey Dienel   Vocals
Justin Vernon   Synthesizer,Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Electric Guitar,Vocals,Loops,Guitar (12 String Electric),Guitar (Resonator)
Eric "Ricky" McKinnie   Group Member
Ben Moore   Group Member
Reggie Pace   Percussion,Trombone,Tuba,Drums,Euphonium,Tambourine,Vibes,Hand Clapping
Merrill Garbus   Vocals
Phil Cook   Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Electric Guitar,Electric Piano,Hand Clapping,Hammond B3
Jimmy Carter   Group Member

Technical Credits

Bob Dylan   Composer
Eugene Record   Composer
Michael Perry   Liner Notes
Josh Cheuse   Art Direction
Charles Albert Tindley   Composer
Brian Joseph   Engineer
Traditional   Composer
Reverend Andrew Jenkins   Composer
Laura Kszan   Product Development
Charles Driebe   Management
James Beville   Engineer
Christopher Porterfield   Composer
Charlie Parr   Composer
Justin Vernon   Producer
Zach Hanson   Engineer
Irene Spain   Composer
Kenneth Morris   Composer
Theodore Peter Lucas   Composer
Derrick Seymour Morgan   Composer
Barbara Adklin   Composer

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