Riverland is a concept album, a daring thing in these days of shuffle modes and short attention. It’s about Mississippi — both the big river and the troubled-but-beautiful state — though Brace is a Washington, D.C. guy, Cooper is from South Carolina, and Jutz grew up in Germany’s Black Forest.
Riverland consists of thirteen new compositions and one remarkable cover, from the pen of bootleg preacher Rev. Will D. Campbell, who spent his life working for equality and racial justice and befriending an oddly endearing group of poets, prophets, and pugilists that included Tom T. Hall, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Muhammad Ali. Campbell’s “Mississippi Magic” is the album’s centerpiece, and Campbell’s peculiar sensibility is also explored in “Tom T. and Brother Will,” a song about his friendship with country music’s greatest storyteller.
You’ll also hear about the Great Flood of 1927; the adventures of a traveling mule; the twilight years of legendary keelboat man Mike Fink; a farmer fighting to keep his family’s land; and General Ulysses S. Grant’s plan to change the world by taking Vicksburg.
Riverland finds Brace, Cooper, and Jutz playing with bass honcho Mark Fain, drumming genius Lynn Williams, fiddle thrush Tammy Rogers, banjo masters Justin Moses and Terry Baucom, and mandolin man Mike Compton.