Album: The Voices of Panola Co, Mississippi, Como Now, (Daptone)

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The Independent Culture

Unaccompanied gospel singing from Como, Mississippi, a place so bluesy that musician Fred McDowell used to pump gas at the service station, and so poor that the churches couldn't afford a piano.

This helps to account for the stark vocal style, first recorded by Alan Lomax in the Forties and again here by Michael Reilly in 2006. In solos, duos, trios and small groups, a selection of singers wail feelingly. They're not conventionally "soulful", with little prettiness or ornament. Instead, God and the devil feel very close indeed.

Pick of the Album: 'Lil' Old Church House': a grainy, impassioned dirge

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