Souled Out ‘n Sanctified – Danny Brooks and the Rockin’ Revelators (HIS House)
Fresh from his participation as a member of the NorthernBlues Gospel All Stars on the Juno-nominated Saved, Danny Brooks is back on the gospel highway with Souled Out ‘n Sanctified.
From the cover photo of Beale Street interposed on a map of Southwest Tennessee to the first track “Soulsville” – a paean to Memphis – Brooks whets the listener’s appetite for his trademark blend of gospel, blues, and mountain music. Putting it another way: Brooks’ gritty, sandpaper-tough vocals are what you’d get if Bob Seger sang in the church.
Complementing Brooks perfectly is the straight-ahead, no-nonsense work of the Rockin’ Revelators. The Revelators are certainly no strangers to blue-eyed soul, as producer/keyboardist Richard Bell worked with the likes of Janis Joplin and The Band. Together with fellow Saved colleagues Hiram Joseph and Ciceal and Amoy Levoy, as well as a host of other special guests, Brooks produces a project that has more in common with Muscle Shoals than urban contemporary gospel music. But if you are hungry for gospel roots, Brooks delivers the order, steamy hot and delicious.
Standout performances on Souled Out ‘n Sanctified include the poignant “Nobody Knows You Like the Lord,” the church rocking “Standing on the Rock” that demonstrates Brooks’ keen understanding of classic quartet harmony, and the Stax-steeped “You Won’t Show.” Throughout the CD, the vocal support of the Levoys and Hiram Joseph was superb. I hope they are given an even more prominent role on future Brooks efforts.
The only misses on this otherwise superb project are when the group switches to mountain music on “Lift Me Up” and “Have Mercy.” These two tracks seem as out of place on the CD as teacakes at a rib fest: satisfying, yet lacking the tangy wallop of the main course.
Like Saved, Souled Out ‘n Sanctified will bring the gospel message to a wide variety of music lovers. And, as Clara Ward reminded us so many years ago, that is exactly what gospel music is supposed to do.