Amy Helm, “Rescue Me” from Didn’t It Rain (2015): One Track Mind

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For years now, Amy Helm has been part of something bigger than herself, helping to keep the memory of her late father Levon Helm alive. You can only imagine that it slowed her emergence as a solo artist, something that would’ve built on a lengthy time spent working in Levon’s band — not to mention a multi-album stint in Ollabelle, beginning with their 2004 T Bone Burnett-produced debut.

But “Rescue Me” betrays something more about Amy Helm, and about the forthcoming Didn’t It Rain, due on July 24, 2015 via eOne Music: She has a sense of craft as finely honed as her sense of duty. This, quite clearly, is a labor of love, and every element speaks to Helm’s steely focus on making the album she always wanted to make, the way she always wanted to make it. In that regard, “Rescue Me” not only represents a definitive step out on our own, but also a smart statement of purpose.

We’ve heard bits and pieces of Didn’t It Rain along the way. Amy Helm premiered “Roll the Stone” back in 2012, for instance, and memorably performed the title track last year at Telluride. But now, at long last, we have a definitive release date, and a persistently lovely, bent-but-not-broken song of redemption to go with it.

Her father’s many fans will note that some of Levon Helm’s final recordings appear on Didn’t It Rain. Other guests include Little Feat’s Bill Payne, Catherine Russell, John Medeski and Marco Benevento — as well as Amy Helm’s regular working band, the Handsome Strangers. They’ll join Mavis Staples and Patty Griffin on tour this summer.

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