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Published: 2001/10/19
by Chip Schramm

The Bloodkin Community Gospel Rehab – Bloodkin

Pretty Mean Records 1030

Bloodkin's fourth studio album marks a reflective departure from the band's
trademark loud and saucy rock-and-roll sound. The unexpected passing of
Bloodkin's manager and confidant Zac Weil around the time of the recording
certainly lends a somber tone to most of the songs on the album. Many of the
tracks on the album make direct or symbolic references to death and the
afterlife. Taking a closer listen to the album reveals a permanent band
lineup that has developed impressive chemistry. Some very deliberate work
from David Barbe on the production end really nailed down the pegs on this
one, yielding a tight yet complex presentation.

The first track on the album Jazz Funeral is absolute Bloodkin. Full
of barroom imagery and sinister implications, Daniel Hutchens is treading on
familiar ground. His songwriting juxtaposes contrasting words and phrases,
essentially putting his poetry to music. Though the focus is slanted towards
Hutchens' lyricism and vocals, there are some nicer instrumental touches
here and there. Eric Carter takes a nice guitar solo near the end of Jazz
Funeral, providing one of the few aggressive moments he has on the

The themes on "The Bloodkin Community Gospel Rehab" also balance religious
and secular elements with equal weight. Limb From Limb comes across
like a chapter from Cinemax's Red Shoe Diaries with the opening line
"The preacher at my church told me / you better not fuck crazy women."
Indeed, the album's title is an accurate description of what lies within its
10 tracks: sacred and profane tales interwoven like a patchwork rug.
Crosses By The Highway fits in with the central theme as well.
Hutchens mixed a rather mundane road trip song with obvious allusions to
Christianity and markers for those who survived their journey in sprit, if
not in person.

Even with the personal inspiration on "Community Gospel Rehab," the band
still has its roots in the same dirt that nurtured its earlier projects.
Bookends has a distinct honky-tonk flavor to it, with Bill McKay
adding some piano fills to enrich Bloodkin's sound. The Ugliest Part
is also a very strong tune, both lyrically and in terms of performance. Here
it seems a bit more measured and calm than live incarnations, but that is
consistent with the mood of the album.

The fact that these songs seem so thematically intertwined, tends to be both
a strength and weakness at the same time. The alcohol tinged nature of
"Rehab," from Kingly's "You knew the best bartender in every town,"
to the "young and drunk again" nature of Up All Night In Heaven tend
to leave the listener disoriented and unfit to drive home, if not slightly
depressed. This album might not be the very best introduction to Bloodkin
for the uninitiated, but for those who can appreciate the dark and personal
nature of the material on "Community Gospel Rehab," this is an album well
worth seeking out.

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