With lyrics drawn from timeless and sacred poems, these spiritually powerful and intimately personal recordings are spontaneous musical interpretations of the Old Testament songs attributed to the shepherd/poet/musician David.
The core tracks for The Psalms--featuring Jessi Colter (piano and voice) and Lenny Kaye (electric and acoustic guitar)--were recorded at Dubway studios in Manhattan during two extraordinary sessions (February 16-17, 2007 and January 4-5, 2008) nearly a decade ago. The original tracks on The Pslams have been augmented with sublime musical contributions from a variety of artists including Bobby Previte (drums, cymbals, tympani, triangle), Al Kooper (Hammond organ), Paul Dugan (arco bass), Mia Theodoratus (harp), John Jackson (mandolin, violin), Jenni Muldaur (background vocals), Jesse Lauter (mellotron), Black Sea Hotel (Willa Roberts, Sarah Small, Shelley Thomas) (background vocals).
In his enlightening liner notes and exegesis of The Psalms, penned especially for this release, Lenny Kaye recalls "One morning in 1995, while working with Waylon Jennings (Jessi's husband) on his autobiography in Nashville, I came into the living room to find Jessi Colter at the piano, singing the Psalms. She would place her fingers on the keys, forming simple chords and expressing melodies as they came to her. 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.
"In the early months of 2007 I secured a studio with a good piano. There was no rehearsal. We would select a Psalm. She sat behind the keyboard, gathered herself, and then began to sing. There were one, perhaps two takes of each. Sometimes I accompanied her on guitar. Over the years I decorated them with chosen musicians, careful not to disturb their intimacy or their moment of improvised creation and inspiration."
Universal in their message, the Psalms are "hymns of hallelujah, lamentation, thanksgiving, penitence, forgiveness, supplication, gratitude, transcendence." On The Psalms album, Jessi Colter and Lenny Kaye are sharing a timeless spiritual and musical experience reflected in these eternal "songs of praise," as ancient as they are contemporary.