Soul Seekers: Soul Seekers II
On the Soul Seekers sophomore LP, gospel quartet fires are teased with younger energies, but with very little lyrical inspiration
Gospel quartet music can be summed up as being God’s blues. Although the good news seems to always reign prevalent in gospel, deeply embedded in those melancholy chords and guitar plunks is a story full of struggle and angst. The Soul Seekers try to inject their younger, cool experiences and a speck of James Brown funk into Delta’s soul music. Since their debut, the power band – containing some of R&B and gospel’s talented architects including John “Jubu” Smith, Nisan Stewart and Warryn & Teddy Campbell (Mary Mary) – have found some invigorated formula to put quartet music back in the spotlight. Their sophomore project, Soul Seekers II, expands on that platform.
After a James Brown-inspired intro, using a charismatic clad emcee using ‘Star Time’ punches, the eight-member outfit crank up the funky pacing with “Holding On” and experiment even further with their obvious pilgrimage into Mighty Clouds soul music on “He Rose”. In this package, the quartet stretch themselves into a few new musical directions than usual with an emphasis on Chicago blues (“Trouble In My Way”), Bobby Womack soul (“Hang On”) and even Johnny Cash country (“Time Has Made a Change”), but nothing on board is as relentless than the six-minute, Harold Lily-penned “It’s All God.” Marvin L. Winans adds a daily devotional by way of a sermonette to the mix, but the Soul Seekers’ sensitive harmonies are enough to carry the song.
What plays in favor with the Soul Seekers’ art is their combustible live sound, sounding like a natural road band and not some snazzy combo pieced together for an impromptu jam session. But besides them reviving the old time religion and retro grooves of black quartet music, the familiar staples and cliches in the lyrical department needs some amending. “It’s Time To Make a Change” tries to break away from the familiar, but its pale storytelling feels like a closing narrative from a Tyler Perry script. Of course it’s impossible to rewrite the Holy scriptures after being interpreted in so many ways through song, but it remains to be seen if newborn quartet groups will add anything lyrically refreshing to their presentations. Soul Seekers could very well do it, but they stall in their Bible re-telling on Soul Seekers II. It’s more of the same ole, but with thicker arrangements and drum licks.
J MATTHEW COBB
- Release Date: 16 November 2010
- Label: My Block/Malaco
- Producers: Soul Seekers
- Track Favs: Holding On, It’s All God, Trust Me