| The Reverend Shawn Amos’ swampy new album, “Blue Sky,” released under the moniker The Reverend Shawn Amos & The Brotherhood, is a collaboration between the Rev and some old friends: drummer Brady Blade (Buddy & Julie Miller, Indigo Girls), bassist Christopher Thomas (Norah Jones, Macy Gray), and longtime Rev guitarist Chris “Doctor” Roberts.
Friends of The Brotherhood are:
Piper Amos – voice
Sharlotte Gibson – voice
Kenya Hathaway – voice
Matt Hubbard – piano, Wurlitzer, Hammond
Ben Peeler – lap steel, pedal steel, dobro, mandolin
Album Produced by James Saez
Executive Producer Roy McClurg
Since 2018’s acclaimed, politically charged Breaks it Down, the Rev has been on the road nonstop. 2019 saw him alighting in Texas, where the South begins, the West ends, and something else is taking shape – a world away, geographically and culturally, from his native Los Angeles. Here, he gathered together the Brotherhood, creating a sense of home in his rootlessness. Blade, Thomas, and Roberts provide not only musical, but also spiritual and emotional support for embracing new territory, artistically and otherwise.
Unlike past Shawn Amos collaborations with Matthew Sweet and Solomon Burke, the Brotherhood is in it for the long haul. “Everybody feels pride of ownership,” the Rev says of Blue Sky. The band has already hit the road and will tour through 2020. “These songs are really special to Shawn,” says Brady Blade, who previously hosted the Rev’s debut album at his Shreveport studio, and laid down drums. “It’s up to us whether we’re ready to jump in and contribute 150%. If we’re not, it’s not a brotherhood.”
Clearly, from the barn-burning blues stomp of “Counting Down the Days” to the smoky R & B of “Albion Blues” to the rollicking “27 Dollars,” the Brotherhood is, indeed, down. The material showcases Shawn Amos’s songwriting like no previous Rev outing; here furious, there vulnerable; here gadabout and crazy, there forlorn and tender; all buoyed by musicians emboldening a beloved family member. “When I first played blues,” the Rev says, “I had no interest in writing. I put up a firewall between the Rev and my Americana past.” Meaning his three Shawn Amos albums, lauded singer-songwriter offerings featuring Ray Parker, Jr., Solomon Burke, and the Jayhawks’ Mark Olson. “But I slowly got the bug again. This is the first time I’ve had the space to try to be more of a singer-songwriter within the confines of the blues.”
Brady Blade says, “Brotherhood, to me, means togetherness, being able to interact with each other in a more personal way because it’s not like ‘Oh, he’s my boss. I’m just the side guy.’ The Brotherhood, in this context with Shawn, helps drive the music. Because the tension must be there. Also, the happiness must be there. For all of us, the happiness has definitely come out on this record.”
Happiness due in part to a creative spirit fully immersed in the work, able to access and manifest the nitty-gritty because his brothers have his back. “My whole artistic life has been a process of: how do I get all of me to show up?” the Rev says. “I fought hard to be here, so I’m gonna make sure all of me shows up.”
Robert Burke Warren, August 2019