Album: Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir, Ten Thousand (Balling the Jack/Bronzerat)

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The Independent Culture

Now touring the UK, the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir – neither a choir nor mountain men – are a Canadian quartet occupying similar roots-revivalist territory to American acts like The Boggs and Old Crow Medicine Show, attempting to disinter the dark country-blues spirit mined by the likes of Charley Patton, Robert Johnson and Son House.

The latter's "Empire State Express" gets an impassioned going-over from the Agnostics' astringent guitars and galumphing junkyard percussion, while Sleepy John Estes's "Stop That Thing" is rendered as a chunky cakewalk. Their own material exhibits a similar kind of natural blues feel to Tom Waits, as in the banjo and zob-stick of "The Boig". Best of all is "Never Be Dead", a whooping celebration of life with pert, swaggering slide guitar snaking through: just one highlight from an album that sounds as old as the hills and as deep and dark as the muddy Mississippi.

Pick of the album:'Never Be Dead', 'The Boig', 'Stop That Thing'