Dedicated Men Of Zion – Can’t Turn Me Around
Big Legal Mess Records – 2020
10 tracks; 39 minutes
This four man harmony group from North Carolina came together in 2014. Leader Anthony Daniels was raised singing harmonies at home in Greenville, NC, and is also a veteran of the Atlanta Rn’B scene, his son Antwan Daniels played keyboards in church while blending gospel sounds into his hip-hop work, Dexter Weaver met Anthony on the sacred soul circuit and Marcus Sugg was the last to join the group and is now Anthony’s son-in-law, so the group is joined by close personal relations. The group sings sacred soul and caught the attention of the Music Maker Relief Foundation and through that connection met Bruce Watson of Fat Possum Records who offered to produce this disc for his recently founded Bible & Tire imprint. This is the group’s second album and was recorded in Memphis with a band that knows its way round the classic soul/gospel sounds: Will Sexton is on guitar, Calvin Barnes organ, Mark Stuart bass and George Sluppick drums, with Jim Spake and Art Edmaiston adding horns. The result is an album that combines the sound and rhythms of Memphis with gospel sounds and religious lyrics, reminding us that the sacred and secular are intimately related.
It sounds as if all four singers get a turn in the lead though there are no credits to confirm who sings which song. There are also no writing credits on the album but one can assume that the material here is a mix of traditional church themes and some original elements. A good example is “It’s A Shame” which bemoans the continuing violence in our world and asks when this will change, the soaring lead vocal set against a full band production with the horns beefing up the sound. In contrast the final cut “Work Until My Days Are Done” is far more conventional gospel fare and sounds typical of Southern gospel church muusic though the horns again add an extra dimension; “A Leak In This Old Building” is classic gospel with the organ prominent as the singer takes his time to tell his story of salvation. Opening track “Father, Guide Me, Teach Me” has some fine guitar work and close harmonies on a traditional church theme of guidance from above while “I Feel Alright” is a beautifully sung ballad with the other three vocalists providing the sort of backing that classic soul singers would love. Will Sexton’s fiery rhythm guitar work stands out on “When I Look Back”, a track which fairly sizzles, one of several on which it is quite impossible for the listener not to move!
Every track brings the spirit to the music and the harmonies are excellent throughout. Whether you share the beliefs of The Dedicated Men Of Zion or not the quality of the music they make is there for all to appreciate.