The New Basement Tapes - Lost On The River

Limited Double Album 2LP Black Vinyl Records

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Lost On The River is a studio album by a collective of musicians recording under the moniker The New Basement Tapes, released in November 2014 via Harvest Records.

Serendipity can’t be scheduled, but recording sessions can.

Producer T Bone Burnett was offered, out of the blue, a batch of lyrics that Bob Dylan wrote in 1967, when Dylan and the Band were in upstate New York recording what would become known as “The Basement Tapes”. They were tall tales, surreal travelogues, love songs, existential riddles and exercises in wordplay — unmistakably Dylan.

To turn them into songs, Burnett sent the lyrics to selected rootsy songwriters - Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes and Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops - and booked two weeks at a Hollywood studio for them to all work together. Unlike the seclusion that Dylan and the Band enjoyed in 1967, there was a documentary crew on the premises; “Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued” to be released later.

It’s a project that could have easily capsized under its own self-consciousness and the weight of the Dylan legacy. The fall back approach of the New Basement Tapes, as the collective was named, is the stately sound of the Band, filtered through Burnett’s cinematic approach to traditionalism; the songs unfurl as they go, gathering resonance and gravity. But the personalities of the songwriters, who are bandleaders on their own, push through: Mumford’s plaintive earnestness and dramatic crescendos, James’s dreamy absorption, Goldsmith’s humble storytelling and Costello’s cynical grit or spooky melancholy.

Giddens, the relative newcomer, has been playing traditionalist string-band music in the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and her fiddle glides through many of the arrangements. On lead vocals, she’s the album’s revelation, singing melodies that hark back to Celtic modes with a decisive presence and a haunting grace. Her “Spanish Mary” - one more of Dylan’s irresistibly magnetic mystery women - could almost be a centuries-old Appalachian tune, though the arrangement gusts toward psychedelia.

Songs don’t write themselves, even with lyrics as vivid as those Dylan provided. James makes “Hidee Hidee Ho” - “makin’ love where e’er we go” - a jaunty piano shuffle, the closest thing on the album to the sense of humour that runs throughout the original “Basement Tapes.” Giddens hears it as a tale of restlessness and abandonment, sung in a creaky, mountain-granny voice.

The album’s title song, “Lost On The River” also gets two versions. It has verses about lovesick loneliness, and a chorus that concludes, “I got lost on the river, but I got found.” For Costello, it’s a slow waltz with an exposed electric guitar, moving from desperation to solace. For Giddens (sharing writing credit with Mumford) it’s an otherworldly plaint with sparse acoustic backup and high harmonies from the Lovell Sisters, concluding in a sorrowful minor key. Neither sounds like the song Dylan might have written, yet each is entirely convincing on its own.

Check out the tracks: “Nothing To It”; “Married To My Hack”; “When I Get My Hands On You”; “Spanish Mary” and “Liberty Street”. 

This double LP housed in a gatefold sleeve is pressed in Europe on black vinyl.

(602537919048)

Tracklisting:

 

 

Title

Time

A1

Down On The Bottom

4:29

A2

Married To My Hack

1:57

A3

Kansas City

4:04

A4

Spanish Mary

5:31

A5

Liberty Street

2:45

B1

Nothing To It

3:32

B2

Golden Tom – Silver Judas

2:39

B3

When I Get My Hands On You

3:10

B4

Duncan And Jimmy

4:10

B5

Florida Key

3:19

C1

Hidee Hidee Ho #11

4:45

C2

Lost On The River #12

3:42

C3

Stranger

4:22

C4

Card Shark

2:36

C5

Quick Like A Flash

3:17

D1

Hidee Hidee Ho #16

3:51

D2

Diamond Ring

2:54

D3

The Whistle Is Blowing

5:16

D4

Six Months In Kansas City (Liberty Street)

3:36

D5

Lost On The River #20

3:47

SKU 602537919048
Record Label Harvest Records
Label / Model # Universal
Catalogue Number 0602537919048
Country EU - Europe
Release Date (Year) 19 December 2014
Original Release Date (Year) 11 November 2014
Barcode # 602537919048
Shipping Weight 0.5450kg
Shipping Width 0.010m
Shipping Height 0.314m
Shipping Length 0.314m
Shipping Cubic 0.000986m3
Type New
Format Limited Edition Double Album 2LP Records, Black Vinyl, Gatefold Sleeve
Vinyl Colour Black
Genre Folk
Genre Folk Rock
Format VINYL LP

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