For the best part of two decades, 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-the-cuff
community friendly gigs in Brixton, to festival headline slots and tours across the UK and
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 ‘Tradition’
Tradition comes at a time when Soothsayers music and political message couldn’t
be needed more. 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 deep reggae rhythm section is always a pleasure; so too is an Afro-jazz horn section – put the two together and add some seriously cool singers and some speaker squeezing sonic manipulation and you have a party hit on your hands.” Jazz FM
‘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
Soothsayers have a unique and universally appealing sound, born out of the traditions of Afro-beat, Reggae and Jazz and created with a desire to uplift, inspire, challenge and touch. Over the past decade or more, Soothsayers have led the way with both live and recorded music, creating ‘Afro-dub’ – a style which has influenced a growing number of bands and artists from London to New York and beyond.
Soothsayers’ music contains deep, hypnotic grooves, punctuated by emotive horn lines and sublime vocal harmonies. Lyrically conscious, Soothsayers create a deep and spiritual musical experience, and have built up a loyal fan base through their consistently high quality live performances around the world and their expanding catalogue of vinyl and cd releases on their own Red Earth label and now on Wah Wah 45s. Comparisons to the work of the Wailers and Fela Kuti go some way to describing the Soothsayers’ sound, but originality is the key to the continuing success and longevity of the group.
From performances at top UK festivals and venues such as Glastonbury and the Jazz Café, London, to International events such as the North Sea Jazz Festival, Rotterdam, and recently the first Dhaka World Music Festival, Soothsayers are spreading their message to an ever-expanding audience.
Collaborations with a growing list of top quality artists including Johnny Clarke, Cornell Campbell, Manasseh, Maxi Jazz, Keziah Jones, Michael Prophet and more, and involvement in 5 star productions such as the recent hit musical Fela! at London’s National Theatre have served to create a growing awareness of the work of these talented and versatile musicians.
2018 Release Schedule
Soothsayers signed to Wah Wah 45s in 2017 andreleased their 6th album in June 2018.
David Rodigan BBC Radio 1xtra “A fantastic live band representing British reggae and roots music at it’s freshest “
John Masouri – Echoes “rebels with a cause free of both cliche and victimhood – they’ve excelled themselves here….like listening to Roy Ayers after a working holiday in Jamaica ”
Sarah Ward – Jazz FM “Tradition is an album that touches the human spirt and taking the listener on reflectional and uplifting sonic journey“
ReggaeMani.Wordpress.com “Soothsayers is in a league of their own with their fusion of reggae and afrobeat. Traditionis familiar, but at the same time something unique.”
Chris May – All AboutJazz “Tradition is number seven in a chain of consistently excellent Soothsayers albums. … a characteristically inclusive London mash-up ofreggae, dub, Afrobeat and jazz. It is all bound together with a strictly-roots vibe—in the20 years Soothsayers has been in existence, fads and fashions have come and gone,and the band has continued unwaveringly along its chosen path”.
backstreetmafia.com “This is Feel good music with a summer glow hitting all the right spots. Track it down.”
Epitomizing the notion of irrepressible, Soothsayers’ sixth studio album “Tradition” simultaneously acknowledges a debt to musical heroes as well as demonstrating how perceived boundaries can be re drawn. Tradition’s sustained burst of danceable joy is driven by the spirit and legacy of innovation. Sumptuous melodies and moody bass lines allure and entice the listener, breathing new life into the sonic space between afrobeat and dub. In Soothsayers’ hands, strong and bold vocal harmonies and brass driven rhythmic grooves find a remarkable sonic habitat that allows this band to proudly stand alone in the crowded musical landscape of today. If this is not enough to convince then add bursts of jazz improvisation aimed at the spirit and a rhythmically tightly coiled ensemble of musicians with contemporary, gritty studio production that captures the spirit of Soothsayers incredible live gigs.
The Guardian: “Thrilling harmonies…seriously infectious dance floor grooves…goose bump-inducing vocals.”
Metro (London): “Afro-dub at its most infectious, an energetic burst of musical virtuosity that is both conscious and peppily propulsive.”
Mojo: **** “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.”
Uncut: **** “One of the finest slices of a Anglo-Caribbean fusion since The Specials in their prime…artfully mixing in funk and Afrobeat to their deep dub.”
Clash Magazine: “A truly intoxicating dub experience…featuring a galaxy of reggae and dub stars…like the best jambalaya it’s hot and spicy and will leave you grinning from ear to ear.”
Echoes: “An impressive mosaic of Afrobeat, dub and funky fusion…dynamic volleys of call and response…cascading horn riffs and melodies.”
Jazzwise: **** “Tangled Roots shows how exciting and diverse things get when you hold a mirror up to London’s musical melting pot.”
Straight No Chaser: “The whole disc constitutes a major step forward for one of the hardest working and most creative groups on the scene.”
Froots: “Uniquely representing how pan-African music has influenced modern Britain.”
XLR8R: “African rhythms filtered through the prism of dub…accomplished musicianship…highly compelling.”
BBC Radio 3: “The eclectic blend works perfectly with the sound being organic and unique. It reflects the diverse cultural influences in modern urban Britain.”
Last.fm: “Soothsayers played this at Paradise Gardens in Victoria Park, June 2009. To say their live performances are ‘blistering’ is an understatement. This is absolutely one of the best live performances I’ve seen, comparable only to bands like De La Soul or AWB in their ability to whip up a crowd and get them feeling awesome…go and see them!”
Daily Star – Dhaka, Bangladesh: “Soothsayers took the audience on an exciting and mystical journey harmonised by a mix of reggae, Afro-funk and urban jazz…blending pulsating rhythms with soothing ones, creating a whole a new adventure…one of the best acts in this festival.”