The Sojourners — The SojournersThe Sojourners are three Vancouver-based men who grew up separately singing in churches in Texas, Illinois and Louisiana, and have been doing it professionally on their own for almost 50 years each.
This self-titled album is the second since Will Sanders, Ron Small and Marcus Mosely first got together a few years back to add vocals to a Jim Byrne album. I'm not familiar with their 2007 Hold On debut, but I'm awfully impressed with this record.
The trio worked with west coast roots music guru Steve Dawson, who produced the album and played guitar and other stringed instruments on it. Mike Kalanj's Hammond B3 organ also plays a key role throughout the 11-track disc, including an excellent solo on "Strange Man."
The Sojourners rearrange traditional gospel songs — including "Brother Moses Smote The Water," "Great Day," "Another Soldier Gone" and "By And By" — and also interpret such somewhat more familiar secular songs as Los Lobos' "The Neighbourhood" and Motherlode's "When I Die."
Individual members sing lead on certain songs, but I most enjoy when they combine for wonderful three-part harmonies on "Brother Moses," "It's Hard To Stumble (When You're On Your Knees)" and "By And By," which features some guest mandolin from Jesse Zubot.
You don't have to be a God-fearing person to enjoy The Sojourners approach, which is largely upbeat and blends gospel, soul, blues, doo-wop, pop and a hint of country.
The Polaris Music Prize has never had a gospel album make its short list, but The Sojourners would be right near the top of my ballot if voting ended today — and I'm pretty sure it will still be close five months from now when it counts.
I give The Sojourners a 9/10.
Black Hen Music will release The Sojourners on Jan. 19. You can hear four songs here.