Singer-songwriter Jessi Colter, the lone female artist featured on the seminal Wanted! The Outlaws album in 1976, will release her new solo LP The Psalms on March 24th. The album’s intimately personal tunes draw musical inspiration from the Bible’s Old Testament poetry attributed to King David, the shepherd and musician whose poetic contributions to the Book of Psalms are considered among the greatest works of Western literature.
Produced by Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye, The Psalms is Colter’s first album of new material since Out of the Ashes in 2006. The core tracks for the LP feature Colter on vocals and piano, and Kaye on electric and acoustic guitar and were recorded in a pair of sessions that took place in New York City in 2007 and early 2008. Kaye was the co-author of Waylon: An Autobiography, the life story of Colter’s iconic husband and musical collaborator, Waylon Jennings, who died in 2002 of complications from diabetes.
In his liner notes for the collection, Kaye writes that one morning in 1995, while working with Jennings on his memoir in Nashville, he found Colter at the couple’s piano, singing the Psalms.
“She would place her fingers on the keys, forming simple chords and expressing melodies as they came to her,” Kaye recalled. “There was no forethought, no conception of composition; only the intuitive expression of the spirituality behind these most ancient of sacred poems, the divinity they wellspring within each of us. I listened transfixed while she paged through the Old Testament, choosing each Psalm, finding within them the emotive voice of the Shepherd Boy, the Warrior, ultimately the King that is David. It was one of the most beautiful expressions of belief I had ever witnessed.”
The songs, all done in mainly one or two takes, were supplemented with contributions from well-chosen musicians, with Kaye carefully working to not disturb “their intimacy or their moment of improvised creation and inspiration.”
On April 11th, Colter, 73, will release her own autobiography, An Outlaw and a Lady: A Memoir of Music, Life with Waylon, and the Faith That Brought Me Home.