Album: The Sojourners, The Sojourners (Black Hen)

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The Independent Culture

For the most part, gospel music remains a sealed world unto itself, only occasionally showing on the radar of popular music when a group draws on secular material by such as Tom Waits, or collaborates with practitioners of other strains of Americana roots-music.

So it is with The Sojourners, three Vancouver singers with open minds and a shared penchant for classic gospel from the golden era of the 1950s and 1960s. They may not have a standout soulful belter like Julius Cheeks or Archie Brownlee, nor a creamy falsetto like Claude Jeter or Al Green, but there's no denying their voices blend beautifully on material such as the relaxed, swingy opener "Nobody Can Turn Me Around", the Reverend Gary Davis's bluesy "Death Don't Have No Mercy", and Los Lobos's lament for the overworked and overlooked, "The Neighborhood". But a large part of the charm of their sophomore album derives from the trio's alliance with guitarist/producer Steve Dawson, already likened to a Canadian T-Bone Burnett for the sensitive and intelligent way he blends various roots forms, adding sparkling Weissenborn and National licks to the rolling "Brother Moses Smote The Water" and "It's Hard To Stumble" respectively, and razoring "Great Day" with raw slide-guitar.

Download this Nobody Can Turn Me Around; Brother Moses Smote The Water; Death Don't Have No Mercy; Great Day