Watch + Listen: Moby Remakes ‘Natural Blues’ w/ Gregory Porter and Amythyst Kiah

When Moby first released ‘Natural Blues’ in 2000, it felt like the worst of our problems was that whole Y2K thing – which turned out to be a whole lot of nothing, anyway. After all, even 9/11 was still a year-and-a-half away.

But as the global pandemic drags on into its fifteenth month, his modern update of Vera Hall‘s traditional spiritual song ‘Trouble So Hard’ sounds a lot like most people probably feel. Consider the lyric:

“Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Oh Lordy, Lord, trouble so hard
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God
Don’t nobody know my troubles but God”

Fittingly, then, he’s just recorded another version, one that wisely doesn’t try to upset its trad vibes, but rather just brings the song viscerally into these troubling 21st Century Times. He’s also enlisted jazz-soul crooner Gregory Porter and alt-folk singer Amythyst Kiah to duet on the track – and their vocal chemistry is nothing short of chill-inducing.

“I remember hearing the song as a child,” Kiah recalls, “but it wasn’t until I studied old time music in college that I realized that I had been listening to the voice of Vera Hall, sampled from the Lomax collection. I’ve been playing ‘Natural Blues’ for years now and it’s the example I give when talking to people about the importance of field recordings and the places they transport us to, musically. To come full circle in this way is more than I ever could have hoped for.”

Moby is equally enthusiastic, effusing, “Gregory Porter and Amythyst Kiah’s performances bring a new sense of yearning to the song that encompasses both light and dark tones. Their thoughtful interpretations bring out deep nuances to the track only they could uniquely offer.”

It’s taken from his upcoming album Reprise (out May 28 via Deutsche Grammophon), which finds him collabing with the Budapest Art Orchestra to reimagine some of his most recognizable tunes. Guest vocalists include such estimable talents as Mark Lanegan, Nataly Dawn and Kris Kristofferson. And for those who can’t get enough of the electronic music icon, Moby Doc, featuring interviews with David Bowie and David Lynch, will be in select theaters the same date.

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