The Black Gospel Blog
Vancouver is on everyone’s minds these days as the Winter Olympics start today, but there’s another reason to focus attention on this wonderful city. It’s a quartet – technically a trio – called the Sojourners.
The Sojourners are Will Sanders, Ron Small and Marcus Mosely. They hail originally from the lower 48 but Canada is their home now. First appearing as a trio backing Canadian blues icon Jim Byrnes on his House of Refuge, the Sojourners went on to release their debut album, Hold On, in 2007. Their eponymous sophomore project for Black Hen Music is now available.
The Sojourners as a group may be relatively new but make no mistake: each member has toiled in the music business for some fifty years. Their expertise is telling, too. With a staccato attack on the jump jubilee “Brother Moses Smote the Water” and a lovely harmonic rendition of Doris Akers’ “Lead Me, Guide Me,” the Sojourners sound as if they built their playlist from a stack of old gospel records.
Point in fact: the album features a rarely-covered early Violinaires classic, the falsetto gospel/doowop “Another Soldier Gone,” which in its narrative interlude takes on a chilling relevance to today’s conflicts. Kudos to Vancouver gospel announcer Marc Lindy for suggesting the group include the song on its project.
The Sojourners capture the chilling eeriness of death anthropomorphized on its cover of Rev. Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy.” Dorothy Love Coates’ “Strange Man” and a spritely version of “By and By” are other vintage pieces included on the album.
On two tracks, the Sojourners sound as if they are getting in touch with their inner Impressions. They imbue “Nobody Can Turn Me Around” and “When I Die” with the loping soul groove of Curtis Mayfield’s iconic vocal group.
The Sojourners’ self-titled second CD is jump out of your seat joyous, a marvelous mix of tight, old-school harmonies surrounded by stinging slide guitar work and languorous dobro plucking. Rootsy and righteous!