Blind Willie Johnson's life started and ended in tragic circumstances. Blinded when a young boy in an incident in which his stepmother threw lye (a corrosive alkaline substance) into his eyes as a result of catching his father with another woman. And dying in 1947 aged only 45, from pneumonia as a consequence of lying destitute in the ashes of his home in Beaumont, Texas for several days following its burning down, having been refused a hospital bed because he was blind.
His voice sounded like a man possessed and his guitar playing that was nothing short of sensational miraculous, often juxtaposing his singing as he plays beautiful fluid melodies on the higher register as his voice howls over the top, almost as if to contrast heaven with hell.
It is not a happy genre of music on this recording but it is crammed full of gutsy, earthy, gravelly spiritual blues sounds, among which I particularly liked "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed & Burning", "Dark Was The Night", "Let Your Light Shine On Me", and "It's Nobody's Fault But Mine".
A haunting but most enjoyable listening experience.