Reviewed by Tony Cummings
I've been waiting years for an album like this one - a CD I could place in the hands of an open minded music fan, Christian or non-Christian and say LISTEN TO THIS! for something truly fresh and innovative. Music only has a few innovators - from Blind Willie Johnson and the Louvin Brothers, from Jimi Hendrix to Nirvana - acts that simply give their creative imaginations full reign so that music takes a quantum leap forward. Most musicians aren't prepared to take the risk. Creating something unlike anything else out there is a huge risk for any musician and most technically gifted musicians stay splashing in the shallows of repetition and slight modification. But now this band from Southern Georgia have emerged with what is, for me, the most exciting, satisfying and downright daring album I've heard for a long while. What husband and wife Rowdy and Sarah Eunice and longtime musical partner Mike Mitchell have done is take two musical worlds which seemed light years apart - the rural authenticity of backporch bluegrass and the urban funk of mean streets hip-hop - and fused them. Now you may know about the mainstream band Gangstagrass who have merged hip-hop and bluegrass and, thanks to the exposure on the TV series Justified have found a following. But for Whosoever South that's only the start of the musical marriage - adding colourings of old time spirituals and raw, gutsy blues and, most important of all, lyrics which portray living faith be it nostalgic references to praying mothers and Holy Ghost parties or passionate declarations of the old, old story of the cross of Jesus. Bringing all this together is the truly masterly production from Azaf Fulks (Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy), creating a sonically dazzling celebration of a century of popular art. Critics are already struggling to label this musical smorgasbord with "country crunk" now gaining some use. Considering how genre-breaking this album is, hearteningly some discerning industry folk are already giving 'Goin' Home' praise. TV network GMC have called the album one of the five "under-the-radar albums you need to hear" while AntidoteRadio have identified it as "one of the outstanding albums released in 2013." It deserves its plaudits. Awhile back LZ7 gave the spiritual "This Little Light Of Mine" an urban makeover. Now this trio mix up banjos and funk to make the oldie even more exciting. The title track underpinned by some deft fiddle playing reminds us that there is a time to live and a time to die; with Sarah's rap, as downhome as fried chicken and collard greens underpinned by a vocal refrain, which sounds like something Alan Lomax might have recorded on one of his field trips while throughout the funk groove bites deep. Just when you think the head-spinning arrangements can't deliver any more surprises along comes the trumpet section blasting out an intricate pattern on the close of the slow "That's Life", just after the vocoder vocal section. Then there's the children's choir on "I Know" and the ragamuffin reggae flavour of "He Loves Me". There are even some snatches of Eastern instrumentation on "Run Tha Race". But thanks to the skills of Mr Fulks, there's never a hint of eclecticism for eclecticism's sake. Every element blends to make a cohesive soundscape of pristine originality. "Every day is a brand new song/Just one day closer to goin' home," declares "Run Tha Race". When that day arrives I reckon I'll still be dancing to this one.
The opinions expressed in this article are
not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed
views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may
not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a
Interested in reviewing music? Find out