Album Reviews

Alexis P. Suter and the Ministers of Sound (AMOS)

Live from Briggs Farm Festival

Artist:     Alexis P. Suter and the Ministers of Sound (AMOS)

Album:     Live from Briggs Farm Festival

Label:     Briggs Farm/Hipbone

Release Date:     11/11/2016

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This might be the first time, in the hundreds of reviews I’ve written, that I was present for the whole live performance, enabling me to give a first-hand perspective. Yes, it might be a little biased, but I’m not going as far to put this album in the classic category of Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore East or The Band – Rock of Ages, albums where I was privileged to be in audience. Nonetheless, it is special to be able to write about the live experience, gospel and roots music on Sunday morning/afternoon at the festival. In my review of the 2016 Briggs Farm Blues Festival, these are some excerpts of what  I said about the performance:

“Rising star Alexis P. Suter is a Briggs Farm staple and featured her newer band, the Ministers of Sound, as Sunday’s closer for a live recording that will be the second for Briggs Farm Records Flanked by stellar keyboardist/ vocalist Dave Keyes and soulful guitarist Chris Bergson, her companion vocalist Vicki Bell and the rhythm section of drummer Ray Grappone and bassist Tony Tino, the emotional Suter was deeply touched by the troubling current racial climate, and spread love through both her commentary and songs such as “Wade in the Water,” “Didn’t It Rain” and “Take Me to the River,” among others. Keyes did a few tunes too… Bergson dedicated his “Goin’ Home” to Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles, where the group originally met. Suter’s set had many high points, but the crowd became even more engaged when Wainwright joined her onstage for duets on “Singing My Song for You”… Suter closed with a deeply emotional “Let It Be.””

There was a special, warm vibe and cohesiveness among those gathered that day, fueled by Suter’s deeply passionate approach to the set. Fortunately, a decent portion of that banter is captured here as well as the audience participation in the choruses. Given Leon Russell’s passing and the troubling racial climate, which appears to be getting even worse, this recording is impeccably timely. It extends for a little over an hour, representing most of the 1 hour and 45 minute set.

Suter has a unique voice. She is the only female singer that I know that has a bass/baritone voice, giving her perhaps more raw vocal power than any. Challenge me. Listen to “Piece of Clay,” “Wade in the Water,” or her glorious, incomparable rendition of “Let It Be.” The recording also does a nice job of highlighting crisp solos from top shelf players Keyes and Bergson. The album is rife with highlights on many tracks, and concludes in a crescendo flourish with “When I Rose This Morning,” “Wade in the Water” and “Let It Be”– all over six minutes in length. This is as uplifting a record as you will hear this, or any, year.

For now, you can order the album by visiting www.briggsfarm.com .  In December it will be available on Amazon, iTunes and other places.

-Jim Hynes

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