Music Review: The New Faith
The New Faith is a beautifully crafted Afrofuturist album by Jake Blount that tells the story of a group of Black climate refugees who are cursed to wander the planet after it’s devastated by climate crises. Blount masterfully carries traditional Black spirituals and freedom songs into a futuristic survival story that centers on religious rituals and purification ceremonies.
“It’s a field recording from the future,” Blount told S&H. “It’s allowed me to go backward and forward at the same time.”
Blount is an ethnomusicologist, vocalist, and award-winning banjo player. He recorded The New Faith at home in the period after the police murder of George Floyd, while recovering from long COVID. “The Black Lives Matter movement is what got me into studying this old music to begin with,” Blount recalls. “After the killing of Trayvon Martin, I was struggling to figure out how to handle that. I started making this album a month after the George Floyd uprisings ended. Throughout history, Black and white people of the working class have had big problems with law enforcement and the way they apply force, and against whom. It’s clearly something that needs changing.”
Blount explains in the liner notes, “These songs, which have seen Black Americans through countless struggles, bind this future community together and their shared past; beauty and power held in song through centuries of devastation, heartbreak and loss.”
The New Faith begins with a baptism titled “Take Me to the Water / Prayer.” Blount sings: “We gather here today to confess / And be cleansed in the eyes of our creator / We gather here to be washed clean of the sins of humanity / We gather here to reject the greed of our forefathers.”