Radha Botofasina: Carry On: The Spirituals Vol.2

LA harpist and singer plus band offer enjoyment and/or salvation as they present gospel and spirituals in a contemporary setting


As the title suggests, this is essentially an album of spirituals. They are given interesting arrangements and all have the common theme of looking to the future peace and salvation through the Kingdom of God as the trials and suffering of life are conquered.

Some of the songs have a typically clappy evangelical style (I Know The Lord Laid His Hands On Me and Move On Up A Little Higher) whilst others have a more bluesy feel,  as in the case of Satan We Gonna Tear Your Kingdom Down, the leader’s harp forming a solid riff with Gemi Taylor’s guitar. Taylor is featured later, on Carry On, when, after an introductory Ethiopian chant, gutsy playing accompanies the lyrics which comment on the historical treatment of women.

Botofasina’s vocals are the main feature; strong and forthright, telling it how it is (or will be), ably supported by the backing singers. But noticeable is the direction given by the piano players. John Lehman sets up a rolling rhythm on Woman At The Well, guides an enjoyably deep and dirty horn section through My Soul Gonna Shine and controls the tempo as Going Back With Jesus morphs into a tango-like ending.

Rod Hines takes the more transcendental Mind On Jesus, with its ethereal harp and strings canopy, into God Is God and a firm soulish groove, in tandem with the organ of Surya Botofasina, and leads the proceedings on Move On Up before its inclusion of a spoken-word passage of the words of Alice Coltrane, of mystery, peace and the liberation of the soul.

More secular readers might be put off by the album’s message and its theological implications, but it will appeal to those interested in the history and development of gospel and spirituals, in a contemporary setting. And to anyone simply looking for some joyous good time music or indeed, salvation.

Satan We Gonna Tear Your Kingdom Down; I Know The Lord Laid His Hands On Me; Woman At The Well; My Soul Gonna Shine; Going Back With Jesus; Mary Don’t You Weep; Mind On Jesus/God Is God; Move On Up A Little Higher; Carry On (40.31)
Botofasina (h, v); Gemi Taylor (g); John Barnes (syn); John Lehman, Rod Hines (p); Cecil McBee Jr, Caleb Buchanan, Ernest Tibbs (b); Munyungo Jackson, Ekendra Das (pc); Geoff Gallegos, Matthew DeMerritt (bar); Lemar Guillary (tb); Richard Antoine White, Devon Taylor (tu); Alma Cielo (vn, vla); Chris Woods, Laurann Woods (vn); Miguel Atwood, Tom Lea (vla), Adrianne Woods, Peter Jacobson (clo);  Surya Botofasina (syn, org); Aankha Neal, Isabel Beyoso, Arianna Gouveia; Shyam Tony Reyes, Kristen Barnes, McCrary Sisters (v); Oran Coltrane (spoken word). Los Angeles, 2022.
Shaila Records 0027