Gild The Black Lily
“Wow this is a great surprise. This feels like an old-school country record, but with a modern touch and a current message. Queen Esther lays it on the table early with "The Black Cowgirl Song," but the messages don't overwhelm the musicality, and the result is really one of the better roots efforts of recent times.”
"Queen Esther's fourth studio album 'Gild The Black Lily' highlights the gift of being an African-American woman willing to make daring, reclamation-driven musical navigations into unexpected sonic spaces. It audaciously succeeds at crafting a narrative thread from gospel blues vocalist Blind Willie Johnson to The Eagles’ soft rock to her own heartwarming Black Americana. Notably, the album grows in distinction when Esther’s artistry expands beyond her prodigious roots and profoundly connects with the listener’s emotional core." -- Marcus K. Dowling
"It’s revealing that “Black” is often used as a qualifier before describing Queen Esther‘s music. Whatever music you are listening to is black music. In fact, Queen Esther descends from the Low Country, a foundational source of food, music, and community traditions for all modern America. We should call everyone else’s music 'Americana a la Queen Esther'."
"That Queen Esther sang very well we knew very well, but that her voice was going to adapt like this to folk, country or blues, without sounding forced, but tremendously natural was already more difficult to expect. The version that is marked of "John The Revelator" - I know, it is very seen but ... - totally a cappella is creepy and the turn she gives to "Take It To The Limit" leaves the song among the best versions ever to have been made of The Eagles. Not to mention that hit that is "The Whiskey Wouldn't Let Me Pray", repeated at the end of the album on acoustic. An insurmountable subject that sticks in your mind for days. They have called it Black Americana, although the definition I like the most is as simple as Americana a la Queen Esther. Wonderful." -- Eduardo Izquierdo
— Route 66 (Spain)
"As for The Eagles cover song 'Take It To The Limit' -- it really sounds wow. Not a copy but a cover with its own soul. Albums like [this one] are the best accolades to African-American music. What Queen Esther comes to serve here is of a high level."
— Rootsville (The Netherlands)
"A varied, but very beautiful sincere album, where her own songs like 'The Whiskey Wouldn't Let Me Pray' and 'Oleander' steal the show a bit more than the great covers."
— The Next Gig (The Netherlands)
"Queen Esther is a versatile vocalist who can sing with originality and reliability a variety of songs coming from so different artists like Son House, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Eagles, George Jones, Chip Robinson and even Lucinda Williams, as well as writing her own songs, which are all halfway between folk, pop, blues, country rhythym and blues and Americana music. This is the case of this recording where Queen Esther tastefully and cleverly combines all these styles, in addition of doing a careful production and restrained elegant arrangements.”
— La Hora Del Blues (Spain)
"Queen Esther has one of those great voices that demand to be heard. Her music embraces the history of black music and her soulful voice is a bit like an echo from the past embracing blues, gospel even the great Motown era. Gild The Black Lily has its roots deep in the past but seems relevant today. This is an essential buy." -- Paul Riley
— Country Music People (The UK)
"Queen Esther has let the muses come, she has let God take the helm and has let herself be carried away, making all her roots flow naturally, reuniting the roots of American folk music around the mother root, the blues."
— Rock Bottom Magazine (Spain)
"She is depicted with a banjo on the cover, but it is the mandolin that is the dominant string instrument here, as well as what sounds like standing bass. In some songs it is laid on a light organ, elsewhere a little guitars, a steel guitar here and there, it is super nice screwed together, but it is always her voice, her crazy voice, that gets to shine and give the songs, both her own and the cover songs, wings. Not a single track is weak. No dead center." -- Egon Holstad
— Feedback (Norway)
"It's almost as if Buddy Miller, Rosanne Cash and Leyla McCalla would have made a record together - strong songs presented in a rather unpolished package. Actually, the genre designation (Black Americana) is quite uninteresting, the important thing is to note that Gild The Black Lily is a minor masterpiece. " -- Pierre Erikssen
-- LIRA (Sweden)
"Hailing from New York City but with deep roots in the South, Queen Esther manages to exude a preservationist feel in her music while putting a distinctly modern stamp on it. Beginning to end, Gild the Black Lily is as pure and enjoyable an album of old-time country, blues, gospel and folk music as you’ll ever hear. It’s fresh and original—not an imitation—and there are other obvious music influences at work in it, but the lineage between it and old Americana music is direct and clear."
-- Adventures in Americana (USA)