Love this Album!
Eric has done it again. Mississippi is my favorite album to date. Each song is unique and leaves you wanting more.
Okay, before I go any farther, let me just say I LOVE THIS ALBUM! There isn’t a piano to be found on any of the eleven tracks, but there is some very tasty organ. "Mississippi" is primarily Eric Tingstad with some bass and percussion support from the very capable hands of Chris Leighton, Garey Shelton, James Clark, Ben Smith and TJ Morris - and Eric Robert on “organ and whirly.” Tingstad performs on a variety of electric and acoustic guitars, banjo, pedal steel guitar, and resophonic. He wrote in a recent blog post, “Mississippi is my musical expression of how we are inspired by, and relate to, our American landscape. This is my take on the region that has come to be known as the Cradle of American Music - centered in the delta, and expanding to include the Americana Music Triangle.” Tingstad composed all of the music except for his stunning arrangement of “Danny Boy,” and there isn’t a weak track on the whole album. As a reviewer, I have to admit that sometimes it feels like my ears are getting kind of jaded, but then something like "Mississippi" comes along that is so fresh, beautifully recorded, and full of life that I want to go back through the artist’s entire catalog to hear what else I’ve missed.
To backtrack a bit, Eric Tingstad has been recording since 1982 and released fourteen albums with Nancy Rumbel (as Tingstad and Rumbel) on the Narada label from 1987-2004. After that, he chose to move on as an indie artist and producer and has been honored with many awards and nominations, including a Grammy win and a second Grammy nomination. "Mississippi" should increase those numbers!
The album begins with “Long Boats,” an upbeat and very rhythmic piece that sets the tone of the album. Banjo, pedal steel, electric and acoustic guitars plus organ and percussion give this blues-tinged piece an American flavor that no one could mistake as anything else. “Shakin’ in the Cradle” has some down-home finger-pickin’ with organ and electric guitar added for additional color. The title track is slow and sultry, and is a perfect musical description of the southern US. With hints of B.B. King and slow dances from decades ago, “Trail of Tears” gets me every time - a heartbreaker. “Skamania” picks up the tempo a bit and is full of fun - love the organ on this one! “Durango” takes on an air of mystery in a somewhat more southwestern musical style and has a completely infectious rhythm. The lively and sunny “Chester” brings this fantastic album to a close, leaving my ears as well as my soul refreshed and happy.
Sure to be one of my Top Favorites for 2015, I give "Mississippi" my highest recommendation.
Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus
"Mississippi" is one of the most unique musical experiences I've had in a while. Its' blend of Americana, blues, country, folk, and more, portray the heart and soul of an area that is a melting pot of cultures and traditions, and a breeding ground for new music forms that followed. GRAMMY Award winner Eric Tingstad is truly a sultan of stringed instruments who has his fingers not only on his guitar frets, but also on the pulse of music of the past, with an ear for contemporary interpretations of it. He has shown excellent taste by surrounding himself with an assortment of top-notch musical accomplices on bass, drums, organ, and more to bring his vision to fruition. Every song is a treasure and distinctive in its own right. What Eric has created with "Mississippi "is a heartfelt tribute to what he calls "the cradle of American music."
The driving rhythm that propels the first track, "Long Boats," recalls the sound of a powerful engine chugging along, pushing the massive Mississippi riverboats through the muddy waters. The flavors of Americana are also heard here and throughout the album, as Eric plays an assortment of stringed instruments including acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, pedal steel, and resonator guitar. The propulsive groove continues on "Shakin' in the Cradle," a foot-stomping back porch hoe down that was difficult to sit still to while listening. The pace slows down a bit on the album's title track, which reminded me a bit of "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac, with its easy loping rhythm, heavy kick drum on the one beat, and finger picked guitar.
While just about all the songs on "Mississippi" are originals, the album includes one cover tune - a unique country-flavored version of "Danny Boy," complete with weepy pedal steel guitar licks that gave this wistful Irish ballad a bit of Nashville mojo. A bouncy shuffle called "Skamania" is a real showcase for Eric's diverse guitar skills, from folky acoustic finger picking to Telecaster twang, everything he does is both tasteful and authentic - a result of his over 50 years of musical experience. Its no surprise to me, or anyone who knows his music, that such a mature conceptual work would come from Eric Tingstad. I greatly enjoyed this musical journey.