The Silvertones of Barbados
Victory in Jesus
Gospel music from the Carribean is becoming increasingly popular, not only in the West Indies, but everywhere that sunny rhythms, lazy back beats, fresh vocals and intensity of Jesus-focused lyrics is appreciated.Producer: André Daniel
album release date: 2000
This is a continuing segment of a review series that shines the spotlight on recent island-rooted Gospel. Check here to get to previous segments.
There’s not too many recording choirs based out the West Indies. But that’s only part of the reason why the Victory In Jesus, the latest project from The Silvertones of Barbados, is special.
Pared down to less than 20 members and now on their fourth album, this prolific choir specializes in wrapping their island sensibilities around Gospel classics, church favorites and singable choruses. Victory In Jesus is their most polished project to date, with improved production and some highly accessible and tasty musical morsels.
Sandwiched between the opening acappella remix of “Don’t Let Nothing Shake Your Faith” and the closing “Sinner Man remix” (with spoken overlays), are ten songs that minister with their subtle blends of reggae, soca, jazz and calypso stylings.
Several hymns take on new mantles. “Draw Me Nearer” features the dulcet tones of Stephen Leacock, one of the group’s stellar vocalists. Piano accompanies with the Silvertones softly chorusing in. “The Old Rugged Cross” is packaged in some near-funky, choppy beats and interesting keyboard effects, with Lisa Coleman contrasting by singing the tune straight and true.
“Leaning On The Everlasting Arms” takes a different tack, with some contemporized lyrics added to the familiar, and some nice lazy, guitar reggae rhythms spicing it up. The Silvertones’ Alex Blackman puts an interesting and more upbeat reggae overlay on top of “We’re Blest”. And the title track an original from Blackman has a definite soco feel to it.
Throughout, the Silvertones present a vocals-first, softer, gentler vibe than that coming from the standard American Gospel choir. Maybe that’s partly attributable to the Bajan accent, or perhaps it’s a result of the temperance that comes from the soft sea breezes.
In any case, The Silvertones of Barbados are worthy of your search. This album is a treasure, and one that combines enough of the familiar with just the right amount of the exotic to endear to it all who will listen.
reviewed by Stan North —
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