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Dead Rock West: California Spirituals

Dead Rock West.
Jim Herrington
/
Courtesy of the artist
Dead Rock West.

Dead Rock West's Bright Morning Stars is well-suited to Easter Sunday: It's not religious, per se, but it is spiritual. The vocal duo of Cindy Wasserman and Frank Lee Drennen covers old-time gospel music, redemption-minded blues and bass-stomping revival numbers, as well as the Jesus and Mary Chain song "God Help Me."

"The one thing that I particularly love about that song is the simplicity and how direct the lyric is in its emotion," Drennan says of "God Help Me." "It just says, 'I'm in need of something different.' "

Bookending the Peter Case-produced album are "God Moves on the Water" and "God Doesn't Change," both of which were popularized by blues preacher Blind Willie Johnson in 1929. Weekend Edition Sunday host Liane Hansen says it's almost like the sequence says there's a constant in the midst of chaos.

"That's exactly it," Wasserman says. "You actually summed it up, Liane. That's perfect!"

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