Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted singer Dion enlists friends like Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons and Van Morrison for his upcoming album Blues With Friends, a collection of blues songs performed by “The Wanderer” singer and his all-star guest list.
E Street Band’s Patti Scialfa and Steven Van Zandt, Brian Setzer, Jimmy Vivino and more also appear across Blues With Friends’ 14 tracks. The album is due out June 5th via the newly launched Keeping the Blues Alive Records, a label co-founded by guitarist Joe Bonamassa, who appears on first single “Blues Comin’ On.”
“I wanted an album of songs that were strong and memorable and told stories that were worth telling,” Dion said in a statement. “The blues have been at the heart of my music since the early Sixties. ‘The Wanderer’ is a 12-bar blues and I was covering Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed in my early years at Columbia — much to the dismay of my corporate masters.”
Blues With Friends also boasts liner notes penned by Bob Dylan. “Dion knows how to sing, and he knows just the right way to craft these songs, these blues songs. He’s got some friends here to help him out, some true luminaries. But in the end, it’s Dion by himself alone, and that masterful voice of his that will keep you returning to share these Blues songs with him,” Dylan writes.
Springsteen (on guitar) and Scialfa (lead vocals) appear on Blues With Friends’ “Hymn to Him,” a re-recording of a track Dion first released in the Eighties. “I first recorded this song for my 1987 gospel album Velvet & Steel. But songs are never finished… I kept hearing this with Patti’s voice, so I asked her to help me remake the song,” Dion said. “When she started singing and layering her vocals down, I got a big surprise. Bruce walked into the studio with his guitar and asked to play a solo. They made it something sublime.”
Simon lends his vocals to Dion’s “Song for Sam Cooke (Here in America).” “I wrote this tune back many years ago. At first, I just had the melody and the refrain ‘Here in America.’ A friend suggested I use an episode from my memoir about walking southern streets with Sam Cooke in 1962,” Dion added. “I finished the song, but it felt too personal, so I put it aside. Then in 2019, I saw the movie Green Book and after that, I couldn’t shake the song. My friend Paul Simon wanted to record it what he was hearing on the tune; it’s a story we both share. Thank you, Paul. Rest in peace, Sam.”
Blues With Friends is available to preorder now via the KTBA Records site.