Bentley’s Bandstand: The Sojourners, Corinne Baily Rae

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billbentley110BY BILL BENTLEY

The Sojourners, The Sojourners, Black Hen Music

soujournersGospel music will always shine. A centerpiece of American sounds, it carries the ability to inspire all those within its sweep. Even for listeners beyond the beliefs at gospel’s rousing center, the songs rarely fail to raise the roof everywhere they are performed. In that way, groups like the Sojourners are prophetic. They start with a higher power pushing them forward, and then arrange their voices in ways to bring the light forward. Will Sanders, Ron Small and Marcus Mosley come from different areas, and use three distinct singing styles to stir up everything they touch. The twists and turns never stop, and by album’s end it’s obvious the Sojourners, only together a few years now, are here to stay. With producer Steve Dawson, they gather imaginative material by Los Lobos, Dorothy Love Coates, Rev. Gary Davis and others, along traditional classics arranged by the trio, and make them modern wonders. Gospel music is timeless, and as long as artists like these put their talent where their spirits reside, we will all find our path to higher ground.

Corinne Bailey Rae, The Sea, Capitol Records

corinnnebailyraeWhen music mixes the light with the darkness it can create a whole new reality. Corinne Bailey Rae, a wildly popular singer whose debut album in 2006 is still a favorite, had to allow tragedy into this new music when her husband, Scottish saxophonist Jason Rae, overdosed on methadone and alcohol. But what came of all that sadness has turned into an ability to turn loss into found, hardship into hope and allows the young woman to grow up without giving in. The Sea doesn’t wallow in death by any means, but there is a definite sense of heartbreak in some of these songs that wasn’t there on the last album. Luckily, she also uses her gorgeous voice on songs like “Paris Nights/New York Mornings” to open up the windows and let a breezy freshness into the sound. Not everything works, like “Keep on Diving” which allows ponderous lyrics like “Worlds will all end / and new worlds will begin / it’s a thought so stark / we’re at once determinant / yet so insignificant / spinning out in the velvet dark.” There’s just not many ways to sing those lines and keep from getting pulled down under the water fairly fast. Moments like that are infrequent, thankfully, and Corinne Bailey Rae never loses an incredibly soulful beauty to share a voice that shines in all the right places. She has never been part of the Amy Winehouse-Duffy-etc. rhythm & blues revival crew that is so popular in the U.K., having way too much subtlety to go that route. What this woman does is take elements of ’70s black music, add a modern sensitivity to it and then filter it through a wide-screen view of the world. There isn’t anyone like Corinne Bailey Rae right now. How could there be? Listening to this album promises us she is just getting started.

Bill Bentley is a writer, musician, publicist, record producer and A&R director. He once played drums with Lightnin’ Hopkins. For more reviews and music news, go to

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.