Dead Rock West: California Spirituals The vocal duo's new album, Bright Morning Stars, isn't necessarily religious, but it is spiritual. Dead Rock West covers some old-time gospel music, redemption-minded blues and bass-stomping revival numbers.
NPR logo

Dead Rock West: California Spirituals

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/135634025/135678897" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Dead Rock West: California Spirituals

Dead Rock West: California Spirituals

Dead Rock West: California Spirituals

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/135634025/135678897" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Dead Rock West. Jim Herrington/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption
Jim Herrington/Courtesy of the artist

Dead Rock West.

Jim Herrington/Courtesy of the artist

Hear The Music

God Moves On Water

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/135634025/135630714" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

This May Be the Last Time

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/135634025/135630687" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Dead Rock West's Bright Morning Stars is well-suited to Easter Sunday: It's not religious, per se, but it is spiritual. The vocal duo of Cindy Wasserman and Frank Lee Drennen covers old-time gospel music, redemption-minded blues and bass-stomping revival numbers, as well as the Jesus and Mary Chain song "God Help Me."

"The one thing that I particularly love about that song is the simplicity and how direct the lyric is in its emotion," Drennan says of "God Help Me." "It just says, 'I'm in need of something different.' "

Bookending the Peter Case-produced album are "God Moves on the Water" and "God Doesn't Change," both of which were popularized by blues preacher Blind Willie Johnson in 1929. Weekend Edition Sunday host Liane Hansen says it's almost like the sequence says there's a constant in the midst of chaos.

"That's exactly it," Wasserman says. "You actually summed it up, Liane. That's perfect!"

Purchase Featured Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
Bright Morning Stars
Artist
Dead Rock West
Label
Red River
Released
2011

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?