With the release of her 18th album, COMMON DREAM, Rita MacNeil turns a spiritual corner. It’s an eclectic blend of Gospel that sways from the simple acoustic opening of the title cut to the reverent country and bluegrass strains of ‘Peace In The Valley’ and then onto the celebratory sounds of revival in ‘Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody’ (a song which was also sung recently by MacNeil as a duet with the legendary Patti LaBelle).
“It’s not about religion” notes Rita, “it’s about the common dream people have of love, joy and peace. I think most people believe in a greater power. In times of sadness and celebration we search for meaning and understanding and for me, that comfort is found through music.”
Indeed the album speaks to the two extremes of human emotion. ‘Take Comfort’ speaks of the fragility of the world following September 11th while ‘When We Overcome’ speaks of the healing that now needs to take place:
“It’s hard to imagine a world where there’s peace
And gentle persuasions can settle our deeds
We live in the promise when that day will come
Sweet rejoicing when we live as one”
Those who have seen Rita in concert will be familiar with favorites ‘Higher Power’ and from her recent recording, MINING THE SOUL, the Ben Harper spiritual ‘I Shall Not Walk Alone’.
Featuring 11 songs penned by MacNeil herself, COMMON DREAM resonates passionately with a voice that holds you in sorrow and celebrates with you in joy. Joining Rita on several of the tracks is the amazing Dutch Robinson. A former lead singer of the Ohio Players, Dutch has performed on stage with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel, and the great B.B. King.
Rounding out the ‘choir’ of voices are Yvonne ‘Muzzy’ Marshall (one of the most powerful performers on the East Coast), the renowned harmonies of Lucy and Stewart MacNeil of The Barra MacNeil’s, and Jamie Foulds. Also featured on most of the tracks is Rita’s current touring band – Kim Dunn, Bruce Dixon, Geoff Arsenault, Chris Corrigan, and Ray Legere lending his bluegrass touch with fiddle and mandolin. Doug Riley guests on piano for the jubilant ‘ You Never Know’ and Ed Woodsworth performs acoustic bass on select numbers.
The result is a unique 15-track collection weaving threads of faith, comfort and the spiritual in a way that, as Rita describes, ‘speaks to the soul’. It’s a celebration, a walk with faith, and above all else, a COMMON DREAM from an extraordinary artist.