In troubling and divisive times, a good dose of soul music is like a big bowl of mama's hearty homemade chicken soup when you're sick in bed. An homage to all things right and good in this world and a mighty defense against its evils. Australian revival band Soul Messengers are back with their third album Vision & Faith, a warm album of '70s jazz-funk-blues fusion. Tinged with the gospel spirit but with just enough down under colloquialisms and four-letter words peppered in to keep it honest. The album will have you up and clapping, chasing the devils of your life away.

Dave Kirby's throbbing 1-2 drums kick off 'Let's Go to Bed' with Simon Morel hyping things up with chiming guitar stabs. Vocalist Richard Aljinovic muses on an irresistible woman. He has one of those rare voices that when pushed, rather than cracking and getting gravelly, gets this great reedy characteristic. More than just his timbre, Aljinovic's phrasing, and passion draw instant comparisons to the late great Richie Havens. The swirling organ of Michael Rohanek adds that worship music vibe while his light touch on the Rhodes keys takes the song away for a brief retreat to dreamland.

'Don't Let Them Tell You' strips things right down to a rich tremolo guitar and Aljinovic's gentle plea to womankind to stay strong and not get trapped in stereotypes. Rohanek really shines on this delicate ballad playing with pure taste. Classic powerful feminine backups boost it up, like an updraft. The lead single 'Whiplash' details the cacophony of modern life. Swiping for love, instant gratification addiction and other side effects of our speeding progress are getting their judgment with the sharp horns dealing the verdict and their own brand of justice. The singer laments: “I’m calling whiplash/World is spinning way too fast/Whiplash/So much spinning can’t find my ass”. A soulful reimagining of 'Eleanor Rigby' is inspired. The phrasing rolls and tumbles over itself, stripping itself of the abrupt, uber-British, string quartet vibe replete with fantastic wah-wah guitars and a bouncy clavinet.

Vision & Faith is just the dose of bluesy optimism that we need right now. Overcoming heartaches, fighting to keep our humanity in the technological age and appreciating those age-old pleasures that will never be lost.


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