Music

The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers: No Glory

PHOTO: JESSE DVORAK

Praise the Lord: On their sophomore album, the Eagle Rock Gospel Singers dive deep into their bag of tricks for an eclectic mix of soul, gospel and Americana.


The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers

No Glory

Label: The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers
US Release Date: 2017-07-14
Amazon
iTunes

Music that reflects a deep religious faith, particularly if it falls within “indie” parameters, can be troubling from a marketing standpoint. Most indie music is either devoid of any kind of religious statement, or questions the concept of religion altogether. As a result, most of what constitutes popular contemporary Christian music seems banal and predictable and not really in keeping with what makes independent music fresh and unique.

If you’re the Eagle Rock Gospel Singers, however, you’ve got this figured out. Eschewing the contemporary sounds of popular Christian music, they’ve taken a natural and admirable step back in time by embracing Americana arrangements -- through the use of acoustic guitar, pedal steel, and harmonica, among other refreshing instrumentation choices -- and reveling in good old-fashioned campfire settings, complete with roof-raising shouts and Southern, bluesy tinges. Their official bio refers to the musical style as “an eclectic mix of alt-country gospel", and I’m inclined to agree.

Beginning as a collective of friends in the summer of 2010, the Eagle Rock Gospel Singers eventually pared down their lineup from 15 members to six and eventually five, releasing the album Heavenly Fire in 2015. Their follow-up, No Glory, shows the band honing its skills even further, thanks to a more open-ended, comprehensive style that ties together a variety of genres without ever sounding unfocused or needlessly meandering.

The title track is a fitting album opener, as drummer/vocalist William Wadsworth introduces a foot-stomping shuffle beat to accompany his distorted, almost Black Keys-inspired bluesy croon. When the rest of the band joins in the chorus -- “There ain’t no glory / None that I see / None to compare / Your love for me” -- it’s full-on revival time, with an upbeat mood bound to get the most morose music lovers out of their seats.

The Southern blues rock vibe continues through the next several tracks, whether it’s the strutting, four-on-the-floor twang of “Momma Told Me” (led by the gospel shout of vocalist Kim Garcia), or the simmering gospel funk of “Haunted", which is highlighted by the rich, soulful organ playing of guest keyboardist Dave Maust.

The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers’ calling card is more than just an organic, back-to-basics approach to Southern-tinged gospel rock -- the arrangements on No Glory have an eclecticism that offers plenty of surprises and a variety that’s refreshing. “Church Fire” is a stunningly arranged, movingly performed original song that sounds like a classic old hymn complete with vocals that echo through the walls of church where it was recorded. This song and “Lay Down Low,” another acoustic-based number of gospel simplicity, are the only two tracks recorded at Church of the Epiphany in Los Angeles (the remaining tracks were recorded in a studio), and the haunting atmosphere ratchets up the songs’ emotional heft immeasurably. Again, it’s hard to believe that all the songs on No Glory are original compositions as many of them could be mistaken for old spirituals.

There are even moments on No Glory when classic pop song structure creeps in, the most obvious example being “Something to Hold", which has an upbeat ‘60s soul sheen mixed in with the testifying, thanks to a lively horn section and some soothing Motown piano riffs. “Over Me” takes on the qualities of a jazzy torch ballad, thanks to its lazy, seductive tempo and Jeremy Long’s plaintive pedal steel.

No Glory is the perfect antidote to the dry, predictable nature of much of today’s contemporary Christian music. It allows the Eagle Rock Gospel Singers to profess their faith through music, but in a style that’s more open-minded , more engaging, and generally more fun. Regardless of your beliefs, a roof-raising good time is guaranteed.

8

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image