This is the first of two contenders for album of the year. They arrived on the same day a while ago and this offers the chance of a very rare gospel review for me. But what an album and a perfect slice of Agit gospel for the times we live in!
Yes the album came out last year in the USA but the UK release date is 25 may this year, so let's get on the case. The album opens with a snippet of a speech Reverend Sekou gave at the protests in Ferguson, Missouri as Resist starts to unfurl as a brilliant slice of blues-tinged gospel to get everyone to resist and make sure black lives and just about every life matters.This is a balm for our times and no mistake.
In Times Like These makes great use of the keyboards of Reverend Charles Hodges from Al Green's band as well as some magical brass to make sure we know who needs saving and that it's time to pray for some salvation and the miracle we are waiting for. This is just superb.
The first cover on the album is a soul-gospel take on Bob Marley's Burnin' and Lootin' wherein the Dickinson Brothers' bass guitar and drums help to bring the pain of the rioting put upon masses to bear. The Reverend Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou gives a masterclass in making a classic your own and makes me want to go and hear him preaching and singing. Wow,this is so vital sounding.
We Who Believe is enough to help win over some non-believers to the Reverend Sekou's cause. It' delivered over a slow soul stew with more of Reverend Hodges magical Hammond organ playing along with AJ Ghent's magisterial pedal steel. It takes us right to the heart of Arkansas and the problems they currently face.
They then play a stunning version of the Dorothy Love Coates gospel classic, Lord, I'm Running (99 & 1/2 Won't Do), which features Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez on full-on church-y backing vocals, singing like she's leading the whole congregation.
Muddy and Rough (Woyaya) is full of pleading and asking the question of how long it will be muddy and rough before things get better. The band really let rip and we get a fantastic guitar solo and a cool as can be keyboard vamp. Once again, this is a seriously great song.
The Devil Finds Work opens like it's made for a Sunday Morning service in a real gospel singing and testifying church and as the song builds the band's emphasis is on bringing out the Reverends message like this is the Sermon of the day. The Choir work to get everyone clapping along and ready to break out and start dancing down the aisles as we all sing along about how the devil finds work for us as we want to be free.
The Good Reverend then gives us his take on the old classic, Old Time Religion about an old school preacher who takes a blind man down to the waters to make him see. This has some great Hammond from Cody Dickinson and more of that incredible pedal steel playing from AJ Ghent to really bring the feeling and spirit into our souls.
When The Spirit Moves takes a great old spiritual and turns it into a song you could expect to hear in a juke joint or on an old blues station as the band starts to cook up a deep soul stew for the Rev to sing and preach over.
Loving You Is Killing Me starts like it's an old Otis Redding or Al Green song and as the song opens out that impression remains. It slowly builds and builds and it makes me want to hold the one I love tight while this song plays.
Will To Win is a collaboration with Blvckspvde (whose song it is) and who shares the vocals with the Reverend Sekou. It's an uplifting plea about standing fast and overcoming our current oppressors.
The album closes with Problems, a piano-led plea for everyone to be alright. It's slow and pensive and a fitting end to a simply wonderful and timely album that everyone needs to hear no matter if they've got religion or not.
Find out more and go buy a copy now from: Rev Sekou Music online