Realizing that blues comes from the spiritual, NorthernBlues label president, Fred Litwin, demonstrates his deep understanding and passion for roots music with this ethereal release of Canadian gospel music. He cleverly brought together 3 of Canada's biggest and most promising gospel vocalists (Hiram Joseph, Amoy Levy, Danny Brooks) and combined them with former Torontonian John Finley, added a phenomenal backing band and capped things off with legendary producer Frazier Mohawk. The finished product features 12 songs (5 are original) lasting a glorious 45 minutes. The rustic church pictured on the cover (and throughout the liner and jewel case) sets the evangelical mood and is a reminder to all where roots music began.
The revival begins with an a capella version of "Down By The Riverside" featuring the incredible vocal harmonies of Hiram and the Gospel Allstar Chorus. Let the healing begin! The Chorus includes Finley, Joseph, Levy, Brooks and Cecille Levy. Together they sound like a choir of angels and provide superior backing vocals on most selections. On "A Place Called Hope" Joseph's vocals testify to his conviction. This guy is going to soar on the gospel charts. For further proof listen to his riveting rendition of the well known "People Get Ready". Danny Brooks' rusty and rigid vocals certify he is "Still Standing Tall". It is sung from the heart by someone who has been down and has been raised up. He and his acoustic guitar are featured solo on the autobiographical number "Righteous Highway". Amoy's sweet, pure vocals won't let listeners sit still on the jubilant "24/7/365". "The Promise" is slow and inspirational. Yet it doesn't stop John Finley from belting out the lyrics. He does the same but adds plenty of soul on the hope-filled "A Change Is Gonna Come". The saintly reprise of "Down By The Riverside" puts closure to this faithful service. The impromptu version of "We Shall Overcome" (sung by the Gospel Allstar Chorus) is a haunting memory of trouble and strife.
Out of all the proficient musicians on the disc, the brilliance of Michael Fonfara illuminates the most. His emotional B3, rippling piano, compelling musical arrangements and enticing co-production are simply supreme. Litwin is not one for hashing out the same old repetitive music. He is determined to take his label where you least expect. As such, I was excited when I first learned about this project. I was ecstatic the first time that I heard it. Track after track it proves the human voice is the greatest instrument. So you think authentic gospel music can only be performed in the southern U.S. and that it has nothing to do with the blues? Experience this reverent CD and you will be Saved!
For CDs, booking and information, contact: NorthernBlues Music, 225 Sterling Road, Unit 19, Toronto, ON Canada M6R 2B2 Tel (416) 536-4892 or (866) 540-0003 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.northernblues.com
Simply click on the CD cover at left to order this CD NOW!
This review is copyright © 2002 by Tim Holek, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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