Holy blues, man!

Arielle Verinis and Dave Green love old Jesus music. Spirituals, gospel, you name it. They take a passel of songs that most folks have heard in completely different contexts and transform them into minimalist heavy blues shouters.

Los Kingdom
The Patron Saint
(Madeline Madison Records)
Verinis and Green aren't subtle singers. They blast through their pipes with everything they have. And the same goes for the music. Most of the time, it's just a bluesy guitar, although some organ and other accompaniments creep in now and again. The result both intensifies the emotional impact and somewhat neutralizes the religious aspect of these songs.

There are a couple of ringers. "House of the Rising Sun" is not a religious song in any sense, but the arrangement here fits nicely. Along the same lines, Verinis and Green chose to use the "freedom" (and not the "Jesus") version of the song "Woke Up This Morning With My Mind On . . ." That's the version more folks know, for sure, but like many civil rights anthems, it comes from the gospel tradition.

I had a few friends in chorus in high school, and their director always told them that they didn't have to believe in the words of the religious songs they occasionally sang, but the canon of fine choral music would be woefully inadequate without their inclusion. Los Kingdom has given these (largely) religious songs a more secular setting, and they shine through this facet as well.

I'm curious to see where Los Kingdom goes from here. There are more than enough songs to make a lengthy cycle that would last for years. But I think I'd like to hear Verinis and Green apply their palette to a wider circle of songs. Either way, I'll definitely be listening.

Jon Worley

return to A&A home page