Luke Winslow-King and Esther Rose perform Luke's song, "The Comin' Tide." I would have sworn on a stack of Bibles that this was an old-time gospel song that I'd heard performed many times by southern gospel choirs from past decades. And I would have been a liar. Turns out this is an original tune and the title track from Luke Winslow-King's 2013 release The Coming Tide. But it's so damn perfect in terms of structure, message, feel, and delivery. Winslow-King is obviously a master songwriter and a committed student and historian of the southern music traditions. You can read a brief review of the album in this edition of the newsletter.
Musically, I guess Luke Winslow-King is best known for his slide guitar work in pre-World War II era blues songs. He both covers songs from that era and writes original tunes that sound like they come from that era. He also seems to be into jazz music form that time, not to mention delta blues, a little bit of folk, ragtime, and even some early R&B.
I don't know the back story, but somewhere along the way he met, dated, and married Esther Rose, and added her to the musical act, like you see here. She sings with devotion that could either be spiritual or love or both. Together they have been touring both in the United States and overseas. The core band they work with now includes upright bassist Cassidy Holden, drummer Benji Bohannon, and trumpeter/keyboardist Ben Polcer.
It's a tricky business performing music from that era. If you're not careful, you end up sounding like a historian, faithfully recreating the sound of that era like an archivist and just hoping that people appreciate the music enough to buy it. At the other end of the spectrum, you can make the mistake of adding too many new influences to the music to make it "modern" and "appealing" to audiences. I think Luke Winslow-King manages to find the sweet spot between the two extremes by writing original tunes that are full of an earnest drive that keeps it open to new interpretations based on our current sensibilities and what we like to hear.
Luke Winslow-King has another album coming out on Bloodshot records called Everlasting Arms and I'm going to be adding bunches of tracks from it to rotation.