Phil Cook’s new solo album is so good it’ll make you forget all about Megafaun. Okay, well maybe you shouldn’t forget about Megafaun, because they’re a great band too, but the point is, Cook has moved into a new realm with this record and you should move with him. Southland Mission is a joyous, raucous, palms-to-the-sky kind of roadside tavern blues and folk.
Even though we premiered one of his earliest new singles “Great Tide,” I somehow missed it, and it was this miraculous cover of Willis Alan Ramsey’s “Northeast Texas Women” with Amelia Meath (Mountain Man, Sylvan Esso) that alerted me to the project. It might be a cover, but their rendition is in the same vein as the songs on Southland Mission — rebellion and glory rolled up into roots music done with real grace and true grit. We’ve already heard Cook’s cover of Charlie Parr’s blue classic “1922” and the lovely, slow-rolling “Anybody Else.” His latest release off the album is “Ain’t It Sweet,” a zydeco-infused, lilting celebration of love and life, spiked with ragtime piano, a crackling guitar solo, and a whole sanctuary full of organ. Oh, and that’s Justin Vernon on backing harmonies. Listen.
Southland Mission is out 9/11 via Thirty Tigers/Middle West. Pre-order it here.