Rising star Miko Marks celebrates the bare-bones beauty of American roots music with a brand new (but old-school track), sharing a fresh cover of “Long Journey Home.”
Her re-energized version of the classic tune premieres on Sounds Like Nashville today (July 22), and Marks says there’s much more to come.
Featuring a jubilant, old-timey folk sound, Marks’ take on “Long Journey Home” revives a track popular before Bluegrass was even a thing — and shows how back then, genre labels were less restrictive. The song was first done by The Monroe Brothers (Charlie and his brother Bill, who would go on to become the defacto “father” of Bluegrass), and since then it’s been covered a thousand ways. But in Marks’ capable hands, it feels more hopeful than ever, serving to celebrate American music’s diverse underpinnings.
The now-resurgent music veteran and Michigan native give this staple of Bluegrass and roots musicians more soul than most, turning a tale of struggle and loss upside down. Acoustic guitar and upright bass, harmonica melodies, tambourine and Marks’ empowering vocal all combine, and by the end, the track turns into a euphoric singalong. And according to her, that’s just what the song needed.
“‘Long Journey Home’ was recorded by The Monroe Brothers in 1936,” Marks says. “For me, it’s about life’s journey, the obstacles and challenges that one faces on the way to something that is most familiar and comforting. Musically we wanted to slow things down a bit — the original and other versions tend to be lightning fast — and give it a different flavor while still honoring the tradition. We set the traditional melody, harmonies and chord progression over a subtle Second Line bass drum pattern to bring a little New Orleans flavor that would invoke the cultural melting pot of early American music.”
Earlier this year, Marks’ Our Country was included in Sounds Like Nashville’s Best Country Albums of 2021 (So Far) list. Now, “Long Journey Home” marks an early taste of the follow-up EP, set to arrive this fall and highlighting her love of country history. The track officially comes out tomorrow (July 23).
“I’m already working on my follow-up album to Our Country, but in the meantime we wanted to produce an EP that would honor and shine a light on a few of the pioneers in Country and Americana music,” she explains. “I love the connection I feel between genres when I listen to these artists. Blues, Gospel, Bluegrass, Country, all of these styles were influencing each other early on, crossing racial and cultural divides the way music should.”
Lucky for fans, she’ll bring that new music and more out on tour this summer. Miko Marks can be found on the road at the Open Sky Arts Festival in Lake Placid, New York, on August 8; Cain Park’s Evans Amphitheater in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, on August 12; and the Philly Folk Festival in Upper Salford Township, Pennsylvania, on August 21. More dates will be announced soon.