This is one of the grittiest combinations of Gospel, Soul, and Southern Blues this side of a street corner that has Mavis Staples and The Blind Boys of Alabama harmonizing on it backed by Booker T and the MG's. This is the voice of the former Screamin' Cheetah Wheelie's front man, and when he lets that voice loose, jaws tend to drop on all those in the vicinity, and mouths' stand agape, and looks of disbelief abound; this is real, this is soul from one of the most unlikely sources. Mike Farris came to gospel music after a fight with drugs and a near death experience from an accidental overdose caused him to take a deep look and he embraced Christianity and sobriety, and turned his voice to gospel music. This is his third disc in that genre and because of the power and authenticity of his singing, his voice is reminiscent of a cross between the fervor of Al Green and the passion of Sam Cooke. The disc was recorded live at the Station Inn in Nashville; with the McCrary Sisters a power in their own right on backing vocals (why they don't have a recording contract is a mystery—if they do I couldn't find it), and the powerful Roseland Rhythm Revue band providing tight and muscular musical support.
The highlights on this disc are too numerous and Farris is wonderful about sharing the spotlight with the band, and with the McCary Sisters, they do a stunning a cappella version of The Fairfield Four's, Dig A Little Deeper, and Regina does a tambourine solo. The band is rock solid and plays to support and underline the vocals, there is some very tasty and slinky guitar playing by Joe McMahan. Farris wrote four of the songs on this disc and there is no distinguishing the ones he wrote form the traditional ones that are in the hymnals or those written by such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Cain't No Grave Hold My Body Down, or Anne Carter, Will The Circle Be Unbroken. This is one Sunday evening concert that would be a blast to attend; the music is upbeat, great for dancing, and the musicianship superb, and it sure sounds as all in attendance were enjoying themselves and the music, and still his voice that can take you right over the edge. This is an 11 out of 10 stars disc.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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