For the best part of two decades now, South London Afro-Dub legends
Soothsayers have been preaching their politically charged good vibrations to a
growing and loyal fan base. Their live shows are legendary and vary from off-thecuff
community friendly gigs in Brixton, to festival headline slots and tours across
Europe and beyond.
Having released six albums and a number of EPs and singles to much critical
acclaim, the band signed to Wah Wah 45s early last year. The Blinded Souls EP
and its follow up remix project, featuring re-works from Titeknots, Simbad and
Deoke, as well as a dub from Darren Jamtone, set the tone for their fourth album,
due this June.
Tradition comes at a time when Soothsayers music and political message couldn’t
be any more needed. As the force that binds us together and simultaneously
builds the walls that keep us apart, how we relate to and negotiate tradition is a
challenge. Is it a defining factor, a warm blanket or a threat?
Whilst songs like Head Rules Heart, the Fela Kuti inspired Sleepwalking (Black
Man’s Cry) - featuring label mate Dele Sosimi - and of course the debut single
from the album, Dis & Dat, question the motives of mainstream media, politics
and government, there’s plenty of positivity on show. Good Vibration delivers
just that; Nothing Can Stop Us (originally written by Soothsayers for Jamaican
veteran Cornell Campbell) is simply a moment of pure, unadulterated joy;
Overcome is a dub infused celebration of the human spirit; and Take Me High
searches for loftier plains of being (and features aforementioned legendary falsetto
Elsewhere, Goodnight Rico pays homage to a missed colleague - the late, great
Rico Rodriguez - best known for his work with The Specials but with a
significant legacy that stretches far beyond this - a true Jamaican great; while
Watching The Stars showcases the ridiculously soulful vocals of band member
Julia Biel; and finally, Soothsayers take on something of a challenge – a Bob
Marley cover. Their version of Natural Mystic cradles the spirit of the originator
and turns it upside down re-imagining the familiar into a journey back to Africa
via a classic Afrobeat groove, spiritual flutes and percussion. Once again, Cornel
Campbell's vocal floats and drifts in an warm and inviting sonic lagoon while the
song's main melody is emphatically reproduced by Soothsayers horn section who
have spearheaded the long and eternal journey.
Tradition is released on Friday June 29th 2018 on CD, limited vinyl and digital
Previous radio support comes from Tom Ravenscroft, Huey Morgan and Craig
Charles on BBC 6Music, as well as David Rodigan and Jazzie B.
‘A heady sonic brew, crafted in the best jazz tradition by drawing respectfully from disparate elements…the album is full of irresistibly funky grooves, intricate percussion, virtuoso vocals, elaborate guitar lines and swinging horns, with meaningful lyrics and uncommon vocal arrangements raising the overall musical standard one level higher.’ Mojo ****
‘Thrilling harmonies…seriously infectious dance floor grooves…goose bump inducing vocals.’ The Guardian
‘An impressive mosaic of Afrobeat, dub and funky fusion…dynamic volleys of call and response…cascading horn riffs and melodies.’ Echoes
‘Tangled Roots shows how exciting and diverse things get when you hold a mirror up to London’s musical melting pot.’ Jazzwise ****
‘The eclectic blend works perfectly with the sound being organic and unique. It reflects the diverse cultural influences in modern urban Britain and you can imagine the music fitting in on dance floors in South London, Kingston, Lagos or Accra. Infectious, funky and great fun!’ BBC Radio 3