In April, Spirit Family Reunion released Hands Together (Amazon & Spotify), its second major album of secular gospel tunes. Since the beginning, the Family has been celebrated for their high energy numbers, of which this album has many. Speaking with NPR’s Ann Powers at the time of the album’s release, Family frontman Nick Panken discusses how “It Does Not Bother Me” is a departure from the standard, sad old time tune.
“I always want to try to write a dangerous song, and I was thinking about how dangerous a simple concept like feeling good can be”
While I love that, I first met and got to know the Family while bouncing back from a dark period of loss in my life. It was then that their hopeful old time throwbacks like “On My Mind,” off the last album, resonated with me pretty deeply. I can’t listen to “To All My Friends and Relations,” another track off the previous record, without thinking of all of the folks that surrounded me during that dark period and similarly in my battle with cancer a decade ago.
So for me, “How I Long to Take That Ride” is the song off of Hands Together that I go back to again and again. It’s the Family that feels most familiar and I hope this is a song that makes the set list for their third appearance at the Newport Folk Festival later this month. For a taste, here’s a performance of the song in the ruins at Newport 2013 (prior to the band member changes last year and mislabeled below).