Image of Dorothy Melton (from Goodbye, Babylon booklet)

Dorothy Melton: I Want Jesus To Walk With Me (1954), taken from Goodbye, Babylon, 2003 [buy]

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I’m not religious but last week’s Wildbirds & Peacedrums gig indirectly reminded me of how putting music and religion together can lead to compositions and performances that stir the soul, even when you don’t think you have one.

There’s no better showcase of this that I’ve come across than Dust To Digital‘s landmark collection of American hymns, spirituals and sermons from the first fifty years or so of the last century: Goodbye, Babylon. Rigorously researched, lovingly compiled and beautifully packaged it reciprocates the authenticity and dignity of its recordings perfectly.

Across the 160 performances contained on the six discs there are few as affecting as this solo vocal field recording (with, if you listen closely, dusk birdsong, a dripping tap and occasional traffic in the background). It can stun you into silence, if not faith.

The [resurfaced] post series highlights older releases.