Daily Download: "Strange Things Happening Every Day," Fern Jones

An exclusive download of an extraordinary gospel singer from the '50s.

Published July 15, 2005 7:01AM (EDT)

Reissue label the Numero Group, which I love more with each release, is back with another treasure, the recordings of Fern Jones, the wife of a traveling minister who, in the late 1950s, recorded a handful of gospel songs with a touch of then cutting-edge rockabilly style. Patsy Cline is the obvious reference point for Jones' voice, big and rich and brimming with confidence, but Jones' is somehow roomier, more open and relaxed, and where Patsy liked to phrase a melody with sinuous grace, Fern preferred a blunter, more emphatic approach. It's also a voice that sounds like it had other things than God on its mind, giving even her most straightforwardly devotional songs a subversive frisson of the secular. For her biggest session, Jones was accompanied by a quartet of top Nashville session players, fresh from a session with Elvis and including the guitarist Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland, who gives a blazing but effortlessly tight performance on this track, a version of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Strange Things Happening Every Day."

By Salon Staff

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