Eric Brace/Peter Cooper/Thomm Jutz – Riverland

A gorgeous sight, the site of historic battles and the muse of William Faulkner. All three define the history of the mighty Mississippi River for authors, songwriters and others drawn to a picturesque region inhabited by the rural survivors and quirky characters at the heart of so many classic novels and memorable songs.

The latest collection of short stories about the flawed yet fascinating places and people along the river’s path, Riverland, comes from country and folk songwriting partners Eric Brace, Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz.

For the uninitiated, Brace worked as a journalist for The Washington Post before starting a life in Nashville as a musician and record label boss. His longtime collaborator Cooper deserves consideration as one of country music’s best ambassadors for his tireless work as a musician, songwriter, educator, historian and podcast host. Jutz hails from the Black Forest of Germany and built a name for himself off collaborations with Nanci Griffith, Mary Gauthier and David Olney. In short, they’re not from Mississippi, but they’re no strangers to its music and mystique.

Together, they explore how the state of Mississippi survived wars (“Down Along the River”), natural disasters (“Drowned and Washed Away”) and political injustice (“Mississippi Magic”) to become a bottomless well of country and folk song inspiration. Musically, these songs and others build off the trio’s shared experience with country, bluegrass, folk and Americana’s Southern-rooted traditions.

Whether they’re honoring real Mississippians like Civil Rights Movement ally and Tom T. Hall running buddy Rev. Will D. Campbell or formulating new stories from familiar sources, the trio meet on common ground for a must-hear concept album that shares a warts-and-all view of the South while highlighting three distinct and distinguished talents.

Eric Brace/Peter Cooper/Thomm Jutz
[Red Beet]