Blues in Britain
The Sojourners comprise Will Sanders, Ron Small and Marcus Mosely – three artists who between them have been singing gospel for over one and a half centuries. “Real” gospel that is liberally spiced with blues, doo-wop, soul and R&B with just a dash of country for good measure – a fervent blend of styles that will delight lovers of all of the aforementioned genres.
To accompany them they are joined by a band that respects and reflects this diversity of styles – Steve Dawson weighing in with some killer blues guitar – Mile Kalanj bathing the mix with alternately churchy and R&B inspired Hammond B3 – with Geoff Hicks and Keith Lowe anchoring the music effectively.
The set opens with the soul infused gospel of “Nobody Can Turn Me Around”, the Sojourners’ joyful harmonies accentuated by mellifluous B3 with Dawson’s tremolo and slide guitars adding a distinctly bluesy edge. The traditional “Brother Moses Smote The Water” with it’s “percussive” harmonies and bluesy slide is another “killer track that emphasises the potency of the groups’ harmonising.
Marcus Mosely takes the lead on “Great Day”; the inherent fervour in his vocals complemented by Dawson’s heavy slide whilst the B3 leads the Sojourners to a dramatic climax – whilst on the Violinaires’ “Another Soldier Gone” Will Sanders’ deeply soulful lead and the Sojourners’ haunting harmonies make their sorrow feel almost palpable making this a relevant paean to the troops currently fighting in Afghanistan.
Ron Small’s impassioned vocals take the lead on Doris Akers’ “Lead Me Guide Me” – David Hidalgo’s “The Neighbourhood” has a strong Holmes Brothers’ feel, replete with bluesy guitar – whilst Sam Cooke comes to mind on the Will Sanders’ led “When I Die”.
The CD is tail-ended by two superb performances – “By And By” having a strong Big Bill Broonzy feel – whilst Gary Davis’s “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” is a gospel “tour-de-force” with the vocals exuding a raw, undiluted passion that is echoed by Dawson’s sombre Electro-Hawaiian lap-steel guitar.
One of the tracks on this set is entitled “It’s Hard To Stumble (When You’re On Your Knees)” – well the Sojourners don’t stumble once on this wonderful set and, I can only say that “I am on my knees praising it”.