Sojourners

The Sojourners

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Each of these three singers -- Marcus Mosely, Will Sanders, and Ron Small -- has been performing on the gospel music circuit for roughly 50 years. But as the Sojourners, they're a relatively new act and this is only their second album. Here they go back deep into the roots of modern gospel music, which is to say they go in a variety of directions: strong hints of country music on "It's Hard to Stumble (When You're on Your Knees)," a soulful take on the Los Lobos song "Peace in the Neighborhood," and a brilliantly bluesy rendition of the Reverend Gary Davis classic "Death Don't Have No Mercy." There are some weak moments, most of them related to pitch: Ron Small's opening solo is a bit flat, as is some of the singing on the trio's otherwise lovely version of the traditional "Brother Moses Smote the Water" and, especially, the opening section of "Lead Me Guide Me." But in most cases the group pushes through those ragged moments and immediately lifts the songs heavenward -- most notably and impressively on the stunningly powerful rendition of "Death Don't Have No Mercy," which also features a brilliant slide guitar solo by Steve Dawson. If the pitch problems had been caught and fixed in the studio, this would be a world-class gospel album; as it is, it's merely very, very good.

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