Reverend Freakchild – Supramundane Blues
Treated and Released Records
CD 1: 13 Songs, 58 Minutes
CD 2: 5 Tracks, 20 Minutes
Styles: Esoteric Blues, Gospel Blues, Trance Blues, Blues Covers, Poetry
I’ve been rereading Stephen King’s Revival, about a Methodist preacher turned carnival showman turned faith healer turned occult madman. One man, three transformations. Prolific blues preacher Reverend Freakchild has also undergone several metamorphoses, taking fans with him through each stage. From singing Blues and Spirituals (2001) to filling a God Shaped Hole (2010), to expressing Illogical Optimism (2016), Freakchild keeps it real while also keeping it “out there.”
Now, on Supramundane Blues, he reworks the Good News while preaching his own, adding exotic instruments and an Eastern vibe. You may have heard “Soul of a Man” or “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” dozens of times, but never the way he plays them.
Several of these are brilliant, like “Good Shepherd” and the chilling “Jesus Just Left Chicago!” That second song’s opening note is less reminiscent of a church than the start of the sci-fi thriller Seconds. Boogie down while “Working on a Building,” with funky wah-wah organ and bassline. Above all, “Keep On Praying.” It features great guitar and a timeless message of persistence.
The first album of this set flips the script on gospel music, featuring three rearrangements of traditional tunes, eight covers, and two original numbers – “Factors of Awakening” and “Seven Billion Light Years Old.” The second CD, entitled Psychedelic Trip Hop Mass, is the reason I listed “Poetry” under “Styles.” The tracks on it are meaningful and transcendental, but they’re not blues songs. Fun fact: The sixth is entitled “Angus Dei,” as in beef, not God.
Co-performing with the Reverend (vocals, guitars and harmonica) are Chris Parker, Matt Rae, Hugh Pool, Lily Pool, Jon ‘Bones’ Ritchie Robinson, Patrick Carmichael, Drew Glackin, Malcolm Oliver, Steve Sirockin, Jason Hann, Mark Karan, Lisa Marie, Kevin Griffin, Reverend Shawn Amos, and Paul Soderman.
True confession: When I first encountered and reviewed him in 2015, yours truly didn’t know what to make of Freakchild and his weird, wild, and often wonderful interpretations of the blues. He wasn’t like anyone I or my father were used to hearing: not Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Bessie Smith, or even Shemekia Copeland and Sean Costello. Nevertheless, once I understood what kind of musical gospel the Reverend proclaimed, I dug it. Most fans may prefer their blues down-to-earth, but for those seeking the Supramundane, you shall find it.