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While Wish I Was in Heavenů is more of a true blues album than its predecessor, Burnside continues to incorporate a variety of musical tools from turntables and ambient beats to the more traditional slide guitar and mandolin. His unique and powerful voice is a key element throughout the disc. It provides an almost playful quality on tracks such as "Too Many Ups" and "Nothin' Man" and turns chilling on the haunting, autobiographical, spoken-word tale "R.L.'s Story."
" R.L. has always had a distinctive style," says Fat Possum founder Matthew Johnson. "But his voice is stronger and more emotive on these songs than I've heard him be in years. He is comfortable and completely in control of his sound."
Wish I Was in Heavenů was co-produced by John Porter (Taj Mahal, The Smiths, B.B. King) and features guest appearances by guitarist Smokey Hormel (Beck, Tom Waits) and DJ Swamp (Beck) on turntable.
At 73, Burnside remains a catalyst for making the blues relevant to a new generation. From his classic hill country blues album Too Bad Jim, to his album and tour with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Burnside has gone from Mississippi legend to indie-rock hero. On his 1998 Fat Possum disc, Come On In, Burnside broadened his appeal with an album of songs re-shaped by Beck's producer Tom Rothrock and Alec Empire. The project spawned a radio hit with "Let My Baby Ride," landing Burnside on HBO's "Reverb" and MTV's "120 Minutes." Another standout track "It's Bad You Know," served as an appropriate backdrop to the action on an episode of HBO's Mob-inspired hit series "The Sopranos." The song also appears on "The Sopranos" soundtrack, which has sold more than 400,000 copies. Today, Burnside's influence is evident in the music of a wide range of contemporary artists from the North Mississippi All-Stars to techno-pop guru Moby.
Burnside will take to the road with a series of live shows in late October. Please visit the Fat Possum Web site at www.fatpossum.com for up-to-the-minute news and tour dates.
More information on RL Burnside can be found on DeltaMusicians and an interview by Ed Mabe.
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