Gospel Train Coming
Artist: Gypsy Carns
Label: Trailer Trash Music
Length: 12 tracks/36:02
Billing himself as the “Blues Preacher”, Gypsy Carns offers up a stirring version of his faith at the place where blues and gospel music intersect. Many of the classic country blues musicians labored with struggle to decide between singing praises to the good Lord or earning a living performing the Devil’s music. For some the answer was to play blues but sing gospel lyrics. Carns covers tunes by some of these greats including Robert Johnson ("Preachin’ Blues"), Son House ("John the Revelator"), Mississippi Fred McDowell ("Bye & Bye," "Going to See the King"), Rev. Gary Davis ("Keep Your Lamps Trimmed & Burning") and Blind Willie Johnson ("God Don’t Never Change" & "Soul of a Man"). He fills out the setlist with three original songs.
Carns handles all of the guitars plus harmonica and the vocals. His singing voice is snarling and gruff one minute – then he shifts to higher pitch where his voice smoothes out for a lighter sound. Many of the tracks feature the dobro, a guitar with resonator plates played with a slide that creates an otherworldly, eerie sound in keeping with the battle between good and evil played out on the disc.
The title track opens the disc with a roar with Carns imitating train sounds on the dobro with blasts from a harmonica surrounding an energetic vocal. “Prayin’ Blues” is one of Carns’ original songs with a driving arrangement for a tale of the Devil, crossroads and a gypsy woman. It is a compelling performance in spite of the use of well-worn themes. Carns tones it down on another of his songs, “Satan Don’t Pay My Bills”, which is one of the highlights of the disc. The lyrics serve as a description of the state of Gypsy’s faith journey.
Several of the songs suffer in comparison to the original versions. Carns doesn’t offer any new arrangements and his vocals sometimes lack the nuance of his mentors. But his guitar/dobro work brims with energy and passion that always make for an interesting listen.
This type of music is rarely played and recorded any more. To hear it performed with such conviction is a rare treat. Carns has fashioned a fitting testimony to the musicians that inspired him and to his own faith. Consider joining him on the gospel train – it’s a joyous ride !!!!
Gospel Train Coming