Levon Helm: Electric Dirt

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

The latest solo album by the Band’s drummer and singer is a lot like his last one, 2007’s Grammy-winning Dirt Farmer. Like its predecessor, Electric Dirt is filled with such Americana-approved subjects as trains, family and working the land with your bare hands.









LEVON HELM
Electric Dirt
(DIRT FARMER/VANGUARD)
[Rating: 3 STARS]

The latest solo album by the Band’s drummer and singer is a lot like his last one, 2007’s Grammy-winning Dirt Farmer. Like its predecessor, Electric Dirt is filled with such Americana-approved subjects as trains, family and working the land with your bare hands. The music is rustic and dusty and sounds like it was made by a bunch of friends hanging out on the porch after supper. The album starts with a rollicking cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Tennessee Jed,” which kicks up a bluesy swing and twang, but it soon settles into a sort of musical complacency, tapping age-old themes and Helm’s still sturdy voice for inspiration.

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  1. Levon’s family worked the land with their bare hands and he surely needs no approval from the Americana police to sing about what is important in this world to him.

    The album has a much wider focus than Dirt Farmer, which was focused on the music he inherited from his folks. Golden Bird and White Dove would have sat comfortably on that album, but this is not just part two. The recycling of the word ‘dirt” is a nod in that direction, but the title also embraces “Electric Mud”, the late 1960s Muddy Waters album, and the blues is much more prominent on this album. (including two songs by Muddy).

    Complacent? Tapping age-old themes is a life-long challenge that is the enemy of complacency. Three cheers (and four and a half stars) to Levon for fighting the good fight.

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