Amy Helm

Didn't It Rain – 2015 (eOne)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Amy Helm

Between DNA and experience, Amy Helm's musical talent could qualify as a superpower worthy of Avengers or Justice League membership. The daughter of Band drummer Levon Helm and singer/songwriter Libby Titus, Helm has honed her chops in a variety of settings, including a decade of playing in her father's Midnight Ramble Band and as a member of roots/gospel outfit Ollabelle. Given the exquisite results on Helm's debut solo album, "Didn't It Rain," it seems almost criminal that it's taken so long for her to release something under her own banner.

The album took awhile even after Helm decided on the solo plunge. She was in the midst of recording "Didn't It Rain" when her father - who played drums and executive produced - was in the last stages of the cancer that silenced him in 2012. In that sense, "Didn't It Rain" stands as a fitting tribute to Levon Helm, whose final recordings are contained herein, in addition to his daughter's shiver-inducing songcraft.

On the surface, Helm and Bonnie Raitt share certain attributes, particularly a smoky vocal style that emanates straight from the soul and insinuates itself into every fiber of a song, a penchant for finding great songs and a compositional flair for matching that greatness. Every aspect of Helm's considerable expertise is exhibited on "Didn't It Rain' - the propulsive swing of "Heat Lightning," the quivery hush of the bluesy "Wild Girl" and the folky "Deep Water," the contemporary blues rush of "Rescue Me;" the brilliant last waltz of "Spend Out Last Dime" (listen for Levon's raggedly inspiring countdown into the song), and the sanctified gospel stomp of the title track. Along with her late father, Helm has a metric ton of esteemed firepower assisting on "Didn't It Rain," including Ollabelle's Byron Isaac (who also produced), Larry Campbell, Little Feat's Bill Payne, John Medeski, Allison Moorer and Teresa Williams, among many others. If we're lucky, Amy Helm has another one of these in the torpedo tube and ready to strike.