Sing Out Magazine
This is the debut recording for the newly-formed gospel threesome of Will Sanders, Ron Small and Marcus Mosely, all musical veterans who are currently integral members of Vancouver, Canada’s premiere gospel aggregation, the Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir. The three originally came together to appear on a recent album project for fervid singer Jim Byrnes (who returns the favor here) where their uplifting, harmony-rich vocal blend caught the ear of Black Hen label owner Steve Dawson.
Project producer Dawson wisely employs minimal accompaniment, with himself on various guitars and ukulele, Keith Lowe on double bass and Geoff Hicks on drums, as he strives to recover that “old school” spirited sound of seminal sanctified groups such as the Soul Stirrers and the Swan Silvertones - while cleverly updating matters with subtly layered vocal arrangements reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield’s hit-making Impressions trio. A rousing yet nuanced version of Mayfield’s epic smash “People Get Ready” is resoundingly indicative of how well he succeeds.
A quartet of other covers are similarly spellbinding - from the Pilgrim Traveler’s “Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb” (one of two tracks where Byrnes guests) and contemporary gospel artist Harvey Watkins Jr.’s hand-clapper “Clean Up” to a pair from the renowned Thomas A. Dorsey songbook, including the kinetic narrative “Walking Up the King’s Highway”.
The remaining six titles are all in the public domain and heartily benefit from fresh, collaboratively electrifying arrangements from Dawson and the trio. The group’s chemistry is especially evident on the eerily intimate “Farther Along”, a bright, unapolagetically dynamic “Have a little talk with Jesus”, the crisp, medium-tempo “Run On” and the profound interpretation of “Eyes on the Prize”. Through-out, Dawson’s supple, blues-styled fretwork is brilliant, pushing affairs along with determination and grace. Hope they do some touring.