As the daughter of The Band’s Levon Helm, Amy Helm has spent her life surrounded by music.  The Band took a mix of rock and roll and traditional American music and invented the Americana genre, decades before the term became popular.  A particularly impressive feat considering that 4 out of the 5 members were Canadian, with Arkansas native Levon being the sole American.  

With Levon’s talent in her blood – as well as a tremendous drummer, he was a fine singer and played a number of instruments including mandolin, guitar and bass– it would be surprising if Amy had not followed her father’s footsteps into the music business.  Having served an apprenticeship in Levon’s bands, Amy joined Ollabel who have recorded 4 albums and also formed her own touring band Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers. Amy_helm_didn't_it_rain

Didn’t It Rain carries forward the ethos of The Band in as much as it is easier to describe what it isn’t rather than what it is: It isn’t country, it isn’t blues it isn’t rock and it isn’t soul but it is a fusion of all these things; a big bubbling stew of rootsy American music.

Fittingly, the title track opens with drums; a tight tattoo ushering in a bluesy guitar, bubbling bass and gospel vocals. Sky’s Falling  would be perfectly suited to Bonnie Raitt’s next album – it you’re reading this Bonnie, make it happen.  In fact, there isn’t a a song on this album that isn’t worthy of  being covered  by another artist.  This is quality stuff from start to finish.

Sadly, Levon died in 2012 but he provided the drum tracks on two songs here, Spend Our Last Dime and Sing To Me.  In Didn’t It Rain, Amy Helm has made an album that can stand shoulder to shoulder with her father’s work and that is no mean feat.

 

John Scott

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