Jake Blount: The New Faith review – Afrofuturism for the apocalypse

(Smithsonian Folkways)
The American musician draws on spirituals on this strikingly minimalist album set in a future world devastated by climate change

The New Faith is an Afrofuturist album built from old music – very old music in some cases. Its premise is familiar enough, not least to fans of Octavia Butler’s influential 1993 novel Parable of the Sower: an apocalyptic landscape brought on by ecological collapse, amid which a band of black American refugees seek salvation. In Jake Blount’s account, they are sustained by the spirituals and blues of yesteryear and their imprint of suffering and redemption.

Blount (pronounced Blunt) has cut a sleek path through the realm of Americana, first as a bluegrass fiddler and banjo player with assorted sidekicks, then with an acclaimed solo debut, 2020’s Spider Tales. He also totes credentials as a music historian. His knowledge is put to good use here, mixing obscurities – several captured by song collector Alan Lomax in the mid-20th century – with better known pieces such as Rosetta Tharpe’s Didn’t It Rain and Blind Willie McTell’s Just As Well Get Ready, You Got to Die. All are given striking, albeit minimalist acoustic settings (the apocalypse is electricity-free). Blount’s co-producer, Brian Slattery, adds percussion to fiddle, banjo and guitar, plus there is rap and massed gospel voices. An arresting, if not always comfortable creation from an uncommon talent.

Watch the video for Once There Was No Sun by Jake Blount.


Neil Spencer

The GuardianTramp

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