Newworldson's new album features the band in top form – funky, soulful, and strong enough to hold their own - even playing with the mighty Chops Horns!
Label: Platinum Pop Music
Time: 11 tracks / 37:53 minutes
The third national studio release by Canadian retro-rockers Newworldson descends from the Great North not like an arctic blast, but a funk-filled, energizing breeze. Once again, Newworldson succeeds in blending a variety of genres from zydeco to funk, soul, pop, gospel and jazz without sounding like a multi-headed monster. The distinctive soulful lead and layered back-up vocals of Joel Parisien (who also plays keyboards) tie the sound together along with the muscular, articulate drum work of Mark Rogers, the pumping bass of Rich Moore and the hot guitar and smooth back-up vocals of Josh Toal. It's the interplay of these four musicians at the heart of Rebel Transmission that give the project its heartbeat.
This time out, the self-produced (with Justin Koop) recording features the astounding Chops Horns on several songs, bringing Newworldson's sound to an even higher level without disguising the basics that make the Canadian band who they are. The musicianship is solid, the vocal sound is distinctive, and the lyrics are uncompromisingly Christian without ever sounding condescending: not overly-dramatic yet never trite.
Starting out strong, the lead track, "Radio Ghost Town," is a rock-pop number driven by a "Pretty Woman" riff and a Beach Boys-like harmony on the chorus. "Homeless Child" follows with a Motown beat and the Chops Horns making smoke pour out of the speakers with David Watson's Barritone sax popping and blowing with style and Darryl Dixon offering a fiery sax solo.
The chart-climbing "Learning to be The Light" follows - a breezy pop ballad featuring lead vocals and delightful harmony by Parisien. It's a hooky song with explicitly spiritual lyrics – just right for radio play, but without pandering to the formulas of the CCM market. The hot party-funk of "5,6,7,8" follows, opening with the explosive entrance of the Chops Horns introducing three minutes and seven seconds of pure get-down fun. Rogers gets in a spectacular little drum-break which is joined by Moore's thumping bass (a bit of homage to Sly?) three-quarters of the way through the song before being joined again by the horns for a strong finish.
The a capella doo-wop of "Old Time Religion" is progressively joined – verse by verse – by drums, then bass, then the full band, to end in a funky soul groove. The ballad, "Today," brings the temperature down a bit, followed by a taste of country in "Sweet Grace." New Orleans gets a nod on the Cajun / zydeco flavored "Selah," an infectious shuffle.
"Son of Man" brings us back to some good old funky rock and roll with a blast of Hammond organ and horns on top of a Muscle-Shoals piano groove. The song features a tasty guitar break by Toal in just the right spot. "Southern Cross" calms things down with Parisien's soulful voice reminding us, "That God, You are the same, from Wellington to Maine," under that Southern Cross in the night sky.
It's back to the party for the last track. "Shake Holy Spirit" is lyrically minimal but packs a powerful punch with horns blazing and the rhythm section cooking on all cylinders.
Newworldson certainly have hit their stride on Rebel Transmission. They know what they do well and they're doing it all over this album. The fact that Parisien, Rogers, Moore and Toal manage to maintain a strong band identity through a variety of styles and the presence of one of the world's greatest horn sections says a lot for these musicians. The band takes what we love about funk and soul, fuses it with rock and pop and a hint of jazz, throws a party and we all have a good time. These are singable songs that will stay with you through the day, as good pop songs should.