Folk singer and guitarist Jake Xerxes Fussell is gearing up to release Out Of Sight, his follow-up to 2017’s What In The Natural World. We’ve already heard two singles from the record, a cover of “The River St. Johns” and a rendition of the Irish folk tune “Michael Was Hearty.” Today, Fussell is sharing two new tracks: “Oh Captain,” and an instrumental that follows it on the album called “Three Ravens.”
“Oh Captain” is a song that was originally recorded by singer and composer Willis Laurence James in the 1920s for Paramount Studios. “Three Ravens” is inspired by a copy of Carl Sandburg’s The American Songbag that Fussell allegedly found at an estate sale in Oxford, Mississippi. The vocals on “Oh Captain” feel imitative, but also interpretive of the ’20s era in songwriting and tone. Both tracks have a moseying cadence to them. Swirling electric plucks accompanied by fiddles and steel pedals push the folkier strums to the forefront.
Here’s Fussell with more details on how he chose “Oh Captain” to cover:
It’s a very unusual recording… James spent much of his life collecting and interpreting and writing about African American worksongs, yet few have recognized his short, obscure stint as a recording artist. Turns out he was a trained singer who taught in the music department for years at Spelman College, whose library still holds his archive. I became fascinated with him and his work, so this song is my little homage to Dr. James.
Check out both “Oh Captain” and “Three Ravens” below.
Out Of Sight is out 6/7 via Paradise Of Bachelors. Pre-order it here.