The title track’s industrial clank and spark sounds familiar, from Tom Waits’ and Gallon Drunk’s blues updates, among others. Miraculous Mule, though, draw on a wider palette of southern music than just the blues, adding to the region’s old songs with their own righteous concerns.
Highway Sound mixes comforting country soul with filthy wah-wah guitar, while I Don’t Do Nobody Nothin’s tale of Christian injustice adopts the swaggering, humane Memphis style of late-60s Elvis. Motherless Child’s sultry fatalism and City Of Refuge’s apocalyptic punch both do justice to their black American sources.
The band’s approach is typified by their take on Rev. Sister Mary Nelson’s Judgement, here given remorseless drive by picked banjo, subtle loops and 21st-century atheist Michael J. Sheehy’s commitment to its refashioned, vengeful lyric. Faith in the blues’ elastic form makes it modern once more./o:p