Blues & Rhythm
The Sojourners are Marcus Mosely, Will Sanders and Ron Small. They cut their teeth singing in the church in their respective hometowns of Ralls, Texas; Chicago and Alexandria, Louisiana. They got together a few years ago, when Canadian musician Jim Byrnes asked Mosely to round up some backup singers for a session.
This is their second CD for the Canadian Black Hen label, Steve Dawson is once more called on to produce and play guitar, Mike Kalanj plays keyboards, Keith Lowe is on bass and Geoff Hicks plays drums. Opening cut is the Mighty Clouds of Joy number ‘Nobody Can Turn Me Around’ (penned by Ermant Franklin), followed by a full tilt run through ‘Brother Moses Smote the Water’. With great relevance to today’s political situation, Will Sanders takes the lead on a dramatic interpretation of the Violinaires ‘Another Soldier Gone’. Given a bluesy treatment, Marcus Mosely leads on a swinging interpretation of Dorothy Love Coates’ ‘Strange Man’.
Doris Akers’ inspirational ‘Lead Me Guide Me’ features Ron Small on lead vocal, then it’s a change of direction with Los Lobos’s David Hidalgo and Louis Perez’s composition ‘The Neighborhood’. ‘When I Die’ is a rootsy version of the number by the group Motherlode (written by Steve Kennedy and William ‘Smitty’ Smith). Ron Small takes lead on the Reverend Gary Davis classic ‘Death Don’t Have No Mercy’; Dawson’s lap steel jars a tad with me though. With Steve Dawson playing a Weissenborn (look it up – I had to!!) and guest Jesse Zubot on mandolin the trio harmonise sweetly on the final cut, ‘Bye And Bye’.
The Sojourners draw on influences from the gospel, soul, blues, r&b and country traditions, throw them in their own melting pot, and emerge with a unique sound. This music grew on me every time I played it, first choices have to be ‘Another Soldier Gone’, ‘Strange Man’, and ‘Death Don’t Have No Mercy’, but it’s all top notch. - Phil Wight