|Mercury Rev — Bobbie Gentry’s the Delta Sweete Revisited (Feb. 8, 2019)
Mercury Rev — Bobbie Gentry’s the Delta Sweete Revisited (Feb. 8, 2019) Location: Hudson Valley, Catskills, NYC
Album release: Feb. 8, 2019
Record Label: PTKF
01 Okolona River Bottom Band (feat. Norah Jones) 4:36
02 Big Boss Man (feat. Hope Sandoval) 3:24
03 Reunion (feat. Rachel Goswell) 2:21
04 Parchman Farm (feat. Carice van Houten) 3:47
05 Mornin’ Glory (feat. Laetitia Sadier) 3:22
06 Sermon (feat. Margo Price) 4:31
07 Tobacco Road (feat. Susanne Sundfør) 2:51
08 Penduli Pendulum (feat. Vashti Bunyan & Kaela Sinclair) 3:10
09 Jesseye ‘Lizabeth (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) 3:04
10 Refractions (feat. Marissa Nadler) 2:28
11 Courtyard (feat. Beth Orton) 3:31
12 Ode to Billie Joe (feat. Lucinda Williams) 5:36
℗© 2019 Partisan Records / Mercury Rev
°− Mercury Rev’s tribute to Bobbie Gentry’s 1968 gem The Delta Sweete . Featuring an amazingly talented group of featured vocalists — Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star), Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab), Phoebe Bridgers, Margo Price, Rachel Goswell (Slowdive), Beth Orton, Marissa Nadler, Vashti Bunyan, Kaela Sinclair (M83), Susanne Sundfør and Carice van Houten.
°− Gentry’s hit was a revolutionary act, a quietly thorough feminism in vision, deed and success amid the strict, paternal order of the country~music industry. And it was her license to thrill again. In October 1967, while “Billie Joe” was still in the Top Five, Gentry began recording
°− The Delta Sweete, a connected set of a dozen songs that extended the narrative dynamics of that single with personal reflection and set her folk~siren charisma in a richer frame of dream~state orchestration, swamp~rock guitars and big~city~R&B horns.
°− In her eight original songs for the album, Gentry drew from her childhood and church life on her grandparents’ farm in Chickasaw County, Mississippi: the girl~ish craving for a beautiful dress in “Reunion”; the rise~and~shine of “Mornin’ Glory”; the stern Sunday lessons in “Sermon,” based on a traditional hymn also known as “Run On.” The covers were boldly chosen: Mose Allison’s chain~gang blues “Parchman Farm”; “Tobacco Road”’s litany of trial; the Cajun pride in Doug Kershaw’s “Louisiana Man”. Gentry also turned them to new purpose and even gender. “Gonna get myself a man, one gonna treat me right,” she sang in Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man” with heated assurance.
°− But The Delta Sweete — released in March, 1968, only three months after Dylan’s John Wesley Harding and right as the Byrds came to Nashville to cut Sweetheart of the Rodeo — was too soon in its precedence. Gentry’s LP, the first country~rock opera, was ignored on arrival, not even cracking Billboard’s Top 100. It was as if Billie Joe had risen out of the Tallahatchie River and thrown that record off the bridge instead.
°− This Delta Sweete is her long~delayed justice — Mercury Rev’s committed and affectionate resurrection of an album that anticipated by three decades their own pivotal expedition through transcendental America, 1998’s Deserter’s Songs. From their recording lair in New York’s Catskill Mountains, the founding core of Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper with Jesse
°− Chandler (previously in the Texas group Midlake) honor Gentry’s foresight and creative triumph with spacious invention and hallucinatory flair. And they are not alone. Gentry’s stories and original resolve are brought to new vocal life and empowerment by a vocal cast of women from across modern rock and its alternative paths: among them, Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval; Laetitia Sadier, formerly of Stereolab; Marissa Nadler; Margo Price, the fiery new country star with a punk~rock heart; and Norway’s Susanne Sundfør, who cuts through “Tobacco Road” with arctic~Nico poise. Phoebe Bridgers, whose first record was a softly stunning 2015 single for Ryan Adams’ PAX AM label, hovers through the acid~western suspense of Gentry’s “Jessye’ Lisabeth” with floating calm, like a comforting angel.
°− On the 1968 LP, Gentry opened with a call to jubilant order, “Okolona River Bottom Band,” like she was leading a barn~dance union of the early Rolling Stones and Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five. Norah Jones takes that entrance here with her own sultry command, like Sarah Vaughan at the head of a slow~blooming choir. In “Sermon,” Price — who has known real struggle up close — sings like a survivor through Mercury Rev’s explosion of color and groove: a specialty throughout the band’s history as recently as 2015’s The Light in You, going back through All Is Dream in 2001, the whirling iridescent soul of 1995’s See You on the Other Side and the sumptuous turbulence of the 1992 single “Car Wash Hair.”
°− Gentry is still very present in the changes. Her seesaw of pride and hurt in the melancholy blur of “Penduli Pendulum” (“When goodbye serves as/My one amusement”) is even more explicit with the seasoned intimacy of Vashti Bunyan — a once~elusive voice from Britain’s psychedelic~folk boom — set against the younger, brighter arc of Kaela Sinclair, now in the electronic project M83. °− And in “Courtyard,” a despairing finale of strings and guitar arpeggios on Gentry’s LP, Mercury Rev build a striking Delta Krautrock in which the English singer Beth Orton wanders, like Gentry, through a ruin of profound loss and treasured memory.
°− “Ode to Billie Joe” was not on the ‘68 Delta Sweete. But Mercury Rev go back to that dinner table with Lucinda Williams of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and it is an inspired bond, calling up the ghosts and questions of a South still very much with us. Indeed, Gentry — who retired from recording and performing in the Seventies — reportedly lives only a couple hours’ drive from the bridge that made her famous, while the spirits she set loose in The Delta Sweete are as restless and compelling as they were 50 years ago. This album is a loving tribute to that achievement, one of the greatest albums you have never heard. It is also a dozen new ways to walk that land.
°− “...theremin~loving, New York indie~rockers Mercury Rev, whose new record Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited, does what it says: explores and reimagines Gentry’s overlooked LP...with vocals not coming from the Rev men but courtesy of an impressive roster of female artists including Beth Orton, Norah Jones, Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier and Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval.” — Esquire
°− “Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited is a sumptuous exercise in psychedelic music, with guest vocalists including Lucinda Williams, Beth Orton, Phoebe Bridgers and Marissa Nadler. Drifting by like the Delta rivers that often turn up in Gentry’s lyrics, these new versions of her songs have a dreamlike, symphonic quality, at once hazy and grand.” — Financial Times
°− “...Mercury Rev’s loving tribute to Bobbie Gentry’s flop 1968 masterwork is something else... Featuring different guest vocalists on each track, the overall effect is more shimmering than the original...” — London In Stereo
°− “Mercury Rev are clearly not attempting to surpass the unsurpassable. Instead,.. The Delta Sweet Revisited.. is a signpost towards one of the great underrated records ...” — Mojo
°− “Mercury Rev, antennae twitching towards big~sky Americana, attempt to redirect attention to the record’s soulful cross~currents with this celebration.” — Q
°− “Magnificent. They’ve brilliantly recaptured the spacious dreamscapes that made Deserter’s Songs so special. This may just be the most heartfelt and original tribute album ever heard.” (Album of the Month) — HiFi Choice
°− “Mercury Rev’s ‘Delta Sweete’ manages to breathe new life into Gentry’s album while also producing material as good as anything the band have done this century.” — 8/10 — Loud & Quiet
°− “It’s a record that stands as a celebration of the trailblazing spirit of figures like Gentry and Bunyan, women who made early inroads into the music industry on their own terms, and it’s a record that comes across as firmly led by their successors. More importantly, it’s pure bloody pleasure from start to finish, a literate, Southern Gothic, backwoods opera with a cast of characters that would give Tennessee Williams or Flannery O’Connor a run for their money.” 8/10 — God Is In The TV
°− “Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited is a sensitive re~rendering which approaches each song on a case~by~case basis…evoke’s Mercury Rev’s own classic album Deserter’s Songs.” — The Arts Desk
°− “Beautiful tribute album gives contemporary sound to their own country roots with help from a great cast of collaborators.” — The List
°− “The result is a beautiful suite of music that guides a new generation to one of the great lost albums of the 1960’s.” — The Times (London)
°− “Mercury Rev bring woozy psychedelia covering her second and finest album, employing fine female singers t achieve their vision.” — The Sun
°− “Full marks to Mercury Rev… a quality, deeply~felt labour of love.” — The Mirror
°− “They handle this suite of vignettes inspired by Gentry’s Mississippi upbringing with care.” — The iPaper
|Mercury Rev — Bobbie Gentry’s the Delta Sweete Revisited (Feb. 8, 2019)