Joining the ranks of the Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and many others over a nearly 100-year-span, modern folk interpreter Willie Watson unleashes a soul-stirring version of “Samson and Delilah,” a folk-gospel standard made popular by Reverend Gary Davis, who had learned the biblically-themed tune from blues singer Blind Willie Johnson.
Watson’s gloriously buoyant rendition of the story of Samson’s epic battle with a lion – and the woman who eventually betrayed him – features the legendary gospel group the Fairfield Four, who also join him on two more tunes from his upcoming album, Folksinger Vol. 2. Produced by David Rawlings, the LP follows 2014’s Vol. 1, Watson’s solo debut after parting ways with Old Crow Medicine Show. Folksinger, Vol. 2 will be released September 15th on Acony Records. Listen to “Samson and Delilah” below.
“Anyone who knows folk music and blues knows that ‘Samson and Delilah’ comes from Reverend Gary Davis,” says Watson. “When you hear him play, it stops you in your tracks and makes a guy like me question every musical thing I’ve ever done. It’s one of those songs I wouldn’t have thought I could pull off, but thankfully I had the Fairfield Four to help me out. Don’t blame Delilah. She did her best with what she had and the world she lived in. Don’t think Samson a fool. After all she was too beautiful to resist. I would have given it up the first time around. Either way it all worked out in the end.”
Also spotlighting guest appearances from Gillian Welch, Morgan Jahnig (Old Crow Medicine Show and Paul Kowert (Punch Brothers), Folksinger Vol. 2 is a spectacular amalgam of Southern gospel, Delta blues, railroad songs and the Appalachian tradition derived from Celtic fiddle tunes. The album includes songs popularized by Lead Belly (“Gallows Pole”), Bascom Lamar Lunsford (“Dry Bones”) and Blind Alfred Reed (“Always Lift Him Up and Never Knock Him Down”), who, along with Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, was among the singers recorded during the historic Bristol Sessions 90 years ago this month in
Folksinger, Vol. 2 track listing:
1. “Samson and Delilah”
2. “Gallows Pole”
3. “When My Baby Left Me”
4. “Dry Bones”
5. “Walking Boss”
6. “On the Road Again”
7. “The Cuckoo Bird”
8. “Always Lift Him Up and Never Knock Him Down”
9. “John Henry”
10. “Leavin’ Blues”
11. “Take This Hammer”