Thee Sacred Souls – Thee Sacred Souls

A gorgeous feast of down-tempo soul…

The past 20 years have seen a new generation of musicians re-connect with the roots of soul music. Labels such as Daptone have led the way, with vocalists such as Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, and Lee Fields epitomising a forceful, high-energy approach that blended raw aspects of soul, R&B, and funk. Thee Sacred Souls represent, in a certain fashion, a break with this – tapping into different aspects of the soul tradition, their down tempo sweet soul feels transported from the heavens, a soothing, harmony-laden blast of soulful magic.

The group’s self-titled debut album is something to adore. From start to finish it feels shot through with beatific light, merging the close harmonies of doo wop, say, with the raw appeal of early 70s R&B. Sitting somewhere between Frankie Lymon and Curtis Mayfield, ‘Thee Sacred Souls’ is a terrific mission statement, one fuelled by empathetic musicianship and terrific songwriting.

Take opener ‘Can I Call You Rose?’; in lesser hands than these, it could fall into the arena of schmaltz, or feel slightly retro. As it is, Thee Sacred Souls breathe exquisite life into the song, the lyrics speaking honestly of love and devotion. Indeed, matters of the heart linger long on the LP – just look at ‘Weak For Your Love’ or ‘Future Lover’ or indeed the stunning ‘Easier Said Than Done’ with its evocation of “true love it ain’t easy…”

Lead vocalist Josh Lane’s ability to truly sell a song transforms even the most unnoteworthy of lines into something magical. His high falsetto drifts across the languid ‘Overflowing’, while the heartrending ‘Sorrow For Tomorrow’ offers a very pure, affecting sense of heartbreak.

The Southern California group are part of a wave of soulful talent on the West Coast, tapping into the sweet soul and low rider traditions. This album brings those instincts to full fruition, matching Thee Sacred Souls against the experience of Daptone founder Gabe Roth, whose work in the producer’s chair results in a record that feels analogue (naturally) but also highly organic, and completely unforced. With Thee Sacred Souls gaining co-signs everywhere from Alicia Keys to Black Pumas to Curren$y, it’s clear that the purity of their artistry is turning heads in all the right places. The soul tradition turns once more, and this evocative, moving record is leading the way.


Words: Robin Murray

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