Fourteen years elapsed between the Word's raucous self-titled debut offering and Soul Food. All the members of this supergroup -- pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph, keyboardist John Medeski, and the North Mississippi Allstars (Chris Chew and Cody and Luther Dickinson) -- have had full and demanding careers in the interim. Randolph was only 22, had played one gig outside his church, and had just one released track when he joined his bandmates in 2000.
The WordSoul Food(Vanguard)3.5 out of 5 stars Back in 2001 Robert Randolph was a young obscure pedal steel player toiling away in a little known religious genre called sacred steel, with a tune released on the tiny Arhoolie imprint. As if by divine intervention, along came keyboardist John Medeski and the North Mississippi Allstars who had been listening to Randolph while touring. They invited him to a one-off instrumental recording featuring his blistering pedal steel fretwork called The Word.
If there’s any real convergence between New England bluegrass, Nashville Americana and the Anglo thump of indie-folk, Della Mae stands planted at the crossroads. An all-female group formed in Boston six years ago, it landed a respectable following with its 2013 Rounder release, “This World Oft Can Be.” But Della Mae’s self-titled third album, due out Tuesday on the same label, shows a leap in confidence. The group’s lead singer, Celia Woodsmith, has strong projection, a smoky tone and songwriting credits on more than half the album.