When it comes to music, mentioning "atmosphere" can feel superficial, like noticing the velvet drapes and cedarwood smell in a restaurant. But think of it another way: Atmosphere is the way ideology feels. Adia Victoria knows this. In the decade-plus she's spent perfecting her version of blues, the South Carolina-born Nashvillian has studied how the heavy air of the South — its buggy, vine-twisted landscapes and historical decadence, the stain of racism and cleansing downpours of resistance — shapes its people.
Co-produced by T-Bone Burnett, her new album A Southern Gothic (out Sept. 17) fully explores this experience. "Magnolia Blues" opens the curtain with a groove reminiscent of Geeshie Wiley and a sisterly choir lifting up Victoria's slow moan until it becomes a quiet roar. "Something in the air tonight," she chants, joined by fellow Nashvillians Margo Price and Kyshona. Indeed there is.