Brother Dege has been relentless in creating outstanding albums with his own style of the blues. These have included great songs such as “House of the Dying Sun”, “The Black Sea”, and the Grammy-nominated “Too Old to Die Young”.
He has returned with his new album Farmer’s Almanac. It is described as “an aural and cinematic journey into the backcountry of the rural Deep South. The songs of Farmer’s Almanac explore themes such as the struggle between rugged individualism vs. social & corporate assimilation, tradition vs. progress, escapism, drug abuse, loss, classism, and the alluring dreams of escapism that promise to resolve it all.”
The word cinematic is one of the best ways to describe this collection of songs. Its opening track “Partial to the Bitters” feels like the opening to a movie as it draw you in with a captivating intro. Even as the album ends with “Partial to the Bitters Pt. II” (another instrumental), you imagine the end credits with the curtain closing after its last note.
This album is drenched in Dege’s influence of the Delta Blues with his use of slide guitar and foot-stomping rhythms. “Country Come to Town” and “The Shakedown” are great examples of these elements at work. Credit also needs to go to the band, as it is a collective effect that brings this authentic sound to life.
As much as the music is the major attraction to most listeners, it is Brother Dege’s way with words that is his real talent. He understands the power that they can have and has created many powerful moments that also provoke imagery. A great example of this is “No Man a Slave”. Its intro makes you picture the start of a movie as he shares the lyrics “Bobby got back from jail / Talking about eternity’s too long / Spent my time in hell / They can’t mess with me no more, no more.” But it is the end of the song that delivers a bigger message “I stumble and fall / Sometimes afraid / Outside it all / Within it the same / I might have to run / I might have to beg / But I’m slave here to none / Ain’t no man a slave.”
This is an album with no weak songs but it does have one that stands head and shoulders above the rest. “The Moon and The Scarecrow” is one of the most impressive tracks you will hear this year. The intro has a delicate bluesy guitar that sets up the story which begins with “I got to hear her cry / I got to hear my angel calling / Such a long goodbye / Hope the sound to break me / It all comes down / When you’re lost in the middle in a bad way / And broken like an old vow.”
If you are looking for true blues music, then Brother Dege is for you.
This song takes you on a journey that is just over 7 minutes but does not feel that long. Dege’s vocals are soft with a tone that paints a picture that he wants to share. The music is subtle during the first half but stands out midway during its haunting instrumental intermission. After that, the mood changes as it becomes more assertive but slows back down towards its finale.
This is an album that has been crafted with a genuine passion and results in a beautiful piece of audio art. If you love the blues or music with an authentic soul, then Farmer’s Almanac is for you.