Salvation Station

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The introduction of this Canadian quartet's soulful "speakeasy gospel" could hardly be a more welcome contrast to the derivative pop and rock that was dominating CCM radio at the time of their self-titled release. A delightfully rhythmic blend of '50s-style soul, '70s-style funk and '90s-style jam rock, Newworldson's debut hinted at their dynamic live shows. Vocalist Joel Parisien, drummer Mark Rogers, bassist Rich Moore, and guitarist/vocalist Josh Toal originally met in a jazz club. As they welded together a fusion of roots rock, blues, jazz, and old-timey gospel, they gained a steady following that eventually resulted in a deal with Inpop Records. It wasn't too much of a stretch to compare the group's transformation of Christian hit radio to the way that the Dave Matthews Band spun alternative music on its side in the mid-'90s. Like Matthews, Parisien had a recognizable voice and a uniquely talented rhythm section that kept the music from ever taking itself too seriously. The transient "Citybus Lovesong," for example, employed a kazoo solo. This didn't mean that the music lacked substance, however. Each song evoked a passionate gospel witness with heartfelt storytelling and admissions of dependence. Such personalized handiwork helped make Newworldson's debut one of 2008's most enjoyable, well-written albums.

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