‘Solstice’ by Luther Dickinson and Sisters of the Strawberry Moon is a brilliant Americana collaboration

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Luther Dickinson has been a busy man recently It’s only March, and he is already releasing his second album of the year. In February he released Amour with Colin Linden. His latest, Solstice, is with Sisters of the Strawberry Moon. This album was born in 2016 when the strawberry moon coincided with the summer solstice. If that seems a sort of cosmic basis for an album, then we should thank our lucky stars for cosmic events.

Sisters of the Strawberry Moon is not so much a band as a collective. The album opens with “Superlover,” which features Birds of Chicago (Allison Russell on fiddle and vocals and J.T. Nero on acoustic guitar) and Lillie Mae Rische on fiddle. It is a pensive and soulful song. While Russell’s vocals are subdues, they are also powerful. This is a great hook for the rest of the album.

“Fly with Me” which features a New Orleans rhythm as well as the soulful vocals of Sharde Thomas, who also plays the fife. “Hold To His Hand” by contrast is an a capella gospel song with the vocals provided by The Como Mamas. Even if you don’t go to church regularly, it’s hard not to be moved by this song.

Amy LaVere (vocals, upright bass) performs on three songs on the album. The one that most grabs the attention is “Hallelujah (I’m a Dreamer.” Her vocals are similar to another upright bass player: Katie West of Truckstop Honeymoon. She catalogs all the things she doesn’t have, including “no clever silver tongue to flatter people into doing what I want ‘em to.” But the one thing she does have is a heart that keeps her amused because she’s a dreamer. It’s a very pretty song that is sure to put a smile on your face.

Amy Helm performs on two songs on the album. “Sing to Me” is one of them. This is a song with a slow tempo and a beat that is so muted as to be almost imperceptible. Rev. Charles Hodges lays down a gospel sound as Helm sings soulfully – not unlike Susan Tedeschi. In the instrumental break, Hodges is joined by Allison Russell on clarinet. This is another song that is powerful because it is so subdued.

This album doesn’t fall easily into any one category – except maybe Americana. Even at that, it is multifaceted Americana. However, the things that binds all of the songs together is that the soul that was put into them and the fact that they are all so pretty. Solstice (New West Records) will be available everywhere on March 22. Order your copy here.

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