Shelter Me is the kind of blue-eyed gospel - with a hint of rock and blues - that fans of Mike Farris and Ashley Cleveland can’t afford to miss…
8 tracks 33:02
Before you get through even half of the title track of The Commissionaire’s Shelter Me album, you’ll catch exactly what this band is all about. In a manner similar to Mike Farris and Ashley Cleveland, but with a groove closer to Bryn Hayworth, The Commissionaires produce a blue-eyed gospel sound that pays homage to the African American gospel-blues tradition while incorporating a rock and roll sensibility. Think Dylan’s Slow Train Coming album but with less polish and a more organic feel.
Jacob Moon provides smooth, soulful vocals and guitar, Joel Parisien (who seems very busy these days) plays Fender Rhodes, tasty Hammond organ, and also adds his signature soulful vocals, Richard Moore plays acoustic and electric bass, and Lyle Molzan plays drums so in-the-pocket that he must get lint all over his sticks. Joey Landreth joins in on four tracks with background vocals and some wonderful slide guitar licks, and Quisha Wint, Chantal Williams, and Robyn Pauhl join voices to bring it to church by becoming the choir.
The band covers a variety of songs from contemporary writers (Buddy and Julie Miller’s “Shelter Me,” Donny Hathaway and Edward Howard’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free”) as well as familiar standards like “The Storm is Passing Over,” and the album’s closing track, “His Eye is On The Sparrow,” which is given an almost dreamy, ambient approach by Moon sounding at times like Mylon LeFevre in tone. The driving, groove-propelled “On My Feet Again” is the album’s most contemporary-sounding track, with the unmistakable stamp of co-writer Jonny Lang all over it. Parisien’s vocal and keyboard skills shine in particular on “None of Us Are Free” and “Some Day We’ll All Be Free,” an interestingly-titled pair of songs about personal and social liberation. The Commissionaires go old-school on “The Storm Is Passing Over,” which features not only Moore’s excellent vocals but Wint, Pauhl, and especially Williams giving us a convincing gospel choir with just three voices.
Shelter Me is a fine collection of soul/gospel/blues/rock tracks, combining the best of the old-school with a modern approach that respects the source – a labor of love that’s no labor to listen to.
- Bert Saraco