Soul Recruiter – Gospel Bass Vol. 1 Ridin Music – Album Review
I have always felt that it’s extremely important to keep an open mind when it comes to music. The sheer quantity that’s out there almost certainly suggests that there’s a massive chance that there is something in every genre & category you can think of that you’re going to connect with. Some band, some artist, some music out there, is going to surprise you – forever and always one of the very best gifts that listening to something new can bring to your ears. You can trust me on that, though I’d imagine most of you out there have experienced something similar along the way; the fact remains – stepping outside of what you’d normally listen to can lead to incredibly rewarding discoveries.
As a few of you out there already know, I was raised with a slightly religious background, which generally means that I was willing to accompany my wonderful grandma to church when she went on Sundays throughout my childhood. Though I would drift away from religion naturally on my own over the years, I still believe I carry a lot of the core values taught to me back then. And if you read these pages on the regular, or if you’ve been following our shows & whatnot, then you’re also aware that, even though I’d consider myself to be on the outside of religion, the combination of message/music has always been one of my favorite things to discuss. No exception to the rule here today – I found this new record from Soul Recruiter, Gospel Bass Vol. 1 Ridin Music, to be completely fascinating to listen to.
The main reason being…this is a really fresh perspective that the entire genre can benefit from. You’re not going to get this from DC Talk, Jars Of Clay, or Relient K – you feel me? As the “Intro” to this record from Soul Recruiter began, I immediately found myself hoping that much of what I’d hear in the album to follow would be done in a similar style. We all know how an “Intro” can serve as that opening statement on a record & still be different from the rest to follow as it morphs into something different – but let’s not forget that the full meaning behind the word itself is to establish that first impression and give us all a taste of what’s to come, which is what Soul Recruiter does perfectly at the beginning of this album. I was more than stoked that the “Intro” of this record really did introduce the style, sound, and approach that would be taken towards the songs on this album after hearing Gospel Bass Vol. 1 Ridin Music in full – the sound is spectacularly clear and intense, matching the vibe set forth in the spoken word expertly. As far as the statement-aspect goes…this “Intro” is right on-point from moment one – and I think what people both inside & outside of religion will completely agree upon, is that Soul Recruiter has started this out with brilliant thought-provoking depth in the choice of words being used. With the very first line of the “Intro” being ‘The world hates you’ – it becomes immediately clear that this isn’t a typical approach to faith-based music…Soul Recruiter seems to set the vibe here early on in a questioning kind of way, whereby the songs that follow serve as the answer to much of the ideas that are put forth in this opening cut. Long paragraph for an “Intro,” I know – but when you do it right like this and it really serves a purpose on an album, it’s worth an extra moment or two to talk about it.
And to further the point on this artist’s & album’s uniqueness – when was the last time you can remember listening to a Gospel-influenced record that has a ‘Subwoofer Advisory Excessive Bass’ label on it? Go ahead and scan your collection if you like, we’ll wait for ya…but c’mon…we’d be waiting forever – that’s never happened before has it? That’s all-new to this genre & the warning label alone should peak your curiosity enough to want to check this album out…so do the right thing and DO that.
So! I present my case…confirmed right away in the first full-length cut. What is the answer to the feeling of ‘The world hates you’ as outlined by the “Intro,” you ask? “Just Love” of course! Seriously – I love the way this album immediately blossoms into a combination of melodic vocals, spoken-word, and the signature low-end heavy music meeting brighter elements in the atmosphere. Using the space incredibly well – I think you’ve really gotta admire the production on this song & on this album for the immaculate clarity it has. “Just Love” expertly combines message and music together into such stunning and remarkable results that you really get to absorb the words & sounds…it’s all so crystal clear that you can get right into the words, right into the music, right into both – but more importantly perhaps, is the fact that it’s all so well put together that you truly WANT to stick with every moment and experience this. Call it bass-music, call it faith-based, call it Christian-electro…whatever it is you personally take out of it, again, I think we’d all come to the same conclusion – this is captivating to listen to and highly identifiable. An incredible effort has been put into the vibe of “Just Love” and the results sound fantastic – & within only two tracks on this album, I already feel like I could totally pick out a Soul Recruiter song on any playlist blindfolded. It’s that different of an approach, that a genuine identity is being completely established. The texture on the spoken-word is so entirely amazing to listen to – I could talk about it all day long…the very sound of those vocals really play a role in making each moment they’re involved in highly interesting to listen to, and it’s because of this approach, that those words are likely to land where they need to go. I’d listen to Soul Recruiter preach the good word all day long personally – it literally sounds incredible, I can’t stress that enough…I think it’s a truly smart approach that seriously connects.
Even those spoken-word vocals are loaded up with bass! The baritone narration continues on “Gospel Bass” as the album continues to open-up and Soul Recruiter expresses the music & message combo in even more accessible ways. This is why I’m saying to keep that mind of yours an open one – the R&B vibe that starts threading itself into the music works really well…the beat is extraordinarily chilled-out & smooth…those spoken-word vocals come booming in with their bass-tones throughout the song at different points, offering scripture-based commentary that is nothing short of compelling to listen to at all times. All of what you hear on “Gospel Bass” is a sound that would work completely out there in the rest of music’s mainstream – much of this record is; if you aren’t a religious person yourself – you still can’t ignore the fact that every track Soul Recruiter has got on this album is one that will move you in one way or the other. Each song proudly speaks on behalf of its Christian influence in some way – I think a song like “Gospel Bass” or even “Just Love” before it find a balance that allows everyone to enjoy it, no matter what their background may be, whether they believe in God, or whether they don’t – Soul Recruiter has made commendable songs that don’t shy away from their message, but also found a way to deliver that message in a way that many, many people out there will want to listen to & engage with.
What I found myself appreciating more & more as I checked out this record throughout the week, was that songs like “Christ Is King” which are arguably more upfront with the religious aspect on display in both title & main-hooks, that there was always a way into the music that would establish that connection to the words. The energy increases on “Christ Is King” in a celebratory sound that echoes the sentiment perfectly…and while I know that the bass-aspect is obviously a centerpiece record, the spoken word and the incredible sonic-texture the vocals have always seemed to steal the show for me. I think the selections have been spectacular, the readings divine, the very sound of them is something I felt like I could listen to for days on end – so I did! I think the brighter-electro vibe and sound of “Christ Is King” is likely to bring in a few more listeners as well…the more up-tempo but still chill vibe of this cut is one that’ll connect with the people out there. The hooks sound perfect & come out extremely strong in the mix and the spoken-word is as bold as ever – the production on Gospel Bass Vol. 1 Ridin Music is pretty much second to none. As for the shouts of ‘Gospel Bass’ or ‘Gospel Bass Music’ that exist in each song on the album…well…I’m not so sure of what JC would think of the branding element…and beyond that, it’s never been my thing in any genre whenever that’s done…once or twice maybe…but for the long haul, we get it & we’re not likely to forget who we’re listening to when we’re listening to a band or artist. The constant reminder can be redundant…I’ll give Soul Recruiter the credit for finding the right spots to put it in there where they still stand out but don’t take too much away from the experience, but I’ll always argue that this is an unnecessary element of modern-day music that doesn’t tend to contribute in ways that further the art overall. Aside from all that, I’m loving this…I’ll leave it at that.
“Christ Is King” also marks the beginning of a march towards the middle of this album, containing some of the most noteworthy hooks and accessible tunes of the bunch as it rolls on to “Rejoice” & “Let It Go.” As far as what’s likely to catch the everyday listener’s attention, the energetic pace and catchy hooks of “Rejoice” are certain to be noticed & turned right up – and can I just say, I LOVE the way this song is put together? Seriously…from beginning to end, this is a real masterpiece and stunning work of art in my opinion. I think Soul Recruiter does a spectacular job of giving the spoken-word the right spaces to make their impact…and when it comes to “Rejoice,” the execution is exceptionally insightful; the transition and switch in direction & sound that this song takes is one you won’t see coming, leading to one of the most powerful moments in the atmosphere of any track on this album. The attention to detail is impeccable on this whole record…but it’s moments like around the 2:15 mark that clearly expose just how much attention is also paid to creating compositions that have real definition & are unafraid to get more gritty & dark in their sound to make that connection between the words & music. In contrast, “Let It Go” stays true to its most graceful, angelic, and beautiful approach, letting the light shine right into this mix of outstanding vocals and endlessly impressive music flowing smoothly. Another stunning breakdown occurs around the two-minute mark of this song as well, shifting gears remarkably well once again to strip back the sound and reveal the incredible textures of the spoken-word vocals. The main hooks of “Let It Go” are tremendously inviting to listen to…the entire vibe of this song really is…Soul Recruiter can certainly create soothing & uplifting material and this cut proves it.
I think the most tossed-up I was on any song on this record was likely on “Praise Him” – and still, if you asked me if I did or didn’t love it, I’d enthusiastically tell ya honestly that I did. I have a few qualms with the main vocal hooks and the tone being right on the line of where it needs to be – but I also think that the music on “Praise Him” was completely noteworthy once again & that the backing layers & details of this song really hit the mark. I like the rhythm & flow to the vocals, the pace they have too, it was just the occasional tone that was right on the borderline for me. What impressed me most about this track was how boldly Soul Recruiter is capable of becoming mid-track – the switch in “Praise Him” is without a doubt one of the most dramatic and noticeable on the entire album, leading to a second minute that is filled with spoken-word that sounds more serious and direct than ever before. I found it to make an enormous impact in terms of giving us that audible reason to return to this song over time, and I really admire the courage it takes to make such a definitive switch in sound like “Praise Him” has. I’ll admit that I felt like the transition into it really worked for me, but that the transition out of it and back into the smooth vibes of the beginning of the song was tougher somehow to return to by comparison.
“Divine Favor” was a song that I felt was able to shine a brighter light on the incredible attention to detail in the music that Soul Recruiter utilizes. The words are more spread out here, the pace is more chill, the atmosphere dives right into the deep of the low-end, and as always, the production remains stunning to listen to at every turn. The narration in Soul Recruiter’s music is completely award-worthy in my opinion, every time it shows up it makes an incredible impact and draws us in even further. The music has really been afforded the leadership role on “Divine Favor,” and with its more mysterious sound, it’s likely to capture yet another dimension of the potential audience out there for this music. The mid-song breakdown and scripture-reading that’s become a staple of the structures on many of these tunes is again highly effective and delivered with extraordinary precision. There’s such wisdom in the delivery that you can’t help but sit up and pay attention when the words are speaking…and the overall hypnotic vibe of the music that envelops you entirely locks you in place so you’re ready to hear them. The assembly & layout of these songs is more than commendable, the execution is incredible.
I loved the gospel choir vocals that start the beginning of “Wade In The Water” as the album continues. The sheer level of thought-provoking verses that Soul Recruiter has included in this song and throughout this whole record has been nothing short of absolutely brilliant. The best way that I can put it, is that there are a ton of sunnier-side verses from the scripture that Soul Recruiter could have chosen at any time – but many of these ideas instead choose to go in a much more questioning and complex direction that really does achieve the desired effect. You listen. You hear the words. You start to really examine what’s being said and find their relevance & application to your own life. I also seriously dig how Soul Recruiter more often than not refers to the Lord as ‘The Most High’ – I know that’s kind of a footnote kind of comment, but you’d be surprised at how much of an effect this choice actually creates. Not only do the words sound LARGE and BOLD the entire way – but the language used is as well…it all adds up to an entire atmosphere that stays cohesively focused and ready to deliver on its intended points, messages, and ambitions. The transformative sound of “Wade In The Water” also really shifts in fantastic directions along the way…almost a given at this point…Soul Recruiter has made a truly remarkable record and adventurous journey through the quality, texture, & purity of sound in music. Small details like the guitar parts in “Wade In The Water” count for so much! 100% of the time throughout the songs on Gospel Bass Vol. 1 Ridin Music, Soul Recruiter has been including tiny details within the layers of sound that combine and add up to extraordinary results…truly, truly, remarkable.
Returning to a more pronounced R&B vibe alongside the electro, the hooks in both the lead & background vocals of “Repent” come out with a massive win and highly accessible sound combined. The spoken-word within this cut is almost the cherry on top when it comes to “Repent” – everything was already going so incredibly right on this cut that you’d almost think there wasn’t a way to make it any better, but that narrator is an orator full of powerfully artistic expression and has a true gift with words – even with it all going perfectly already, that voice still adds more to the experience, every time. I loved the chilled-out sound of the music, I loved the brightness in the hooks, I loved the seriousness in the spoken-word…there’s definitely a case to be made for “Repent” being one of my favorites on a record that is full of amazing songs…the amount of ways that Soul Recruiter has combined, included, mixed, and implemented sounds of all kinds throughout this low-end bass-lovin’ album is more than impressive.
The most water-cooler-worthy discussion to be had is likely going to revolve around the words on “Burn,” which speaks more directly on a specific topic & theme perhaps more than any other. While faithful to the views set forth in the scripture, it’s certainly bound to be a more controversial track when it comes to the wider audience that this music could appeal to. Some people out there will certainly appreciate the frankness in the message here…others might feel that the album crosses a line that it hasn’t so far in how it could potentially divide the people listening, rather than bring them together as it has throughout much of the content prior. Designed for the most devout in their faith, which there’s certainly nothing wrong with doing so…I’m suppose I’m just arguing/acknowledging that there’s risk being taken here for sure…whether or not that is what Soul Recruiter is looking for, I’m not so sure. The reality of today’s world is that the spoken-word lyrics are going to be polarizing for many people, but you also have to be willing to accept that if Soul Recruiter is ready to put forth such a pointed theme on “Burn,” that the discussion is ready to be had. So while it might be somewhat of a risk…you have to assume that Soul Recruiter is more than fine with expressing a specific point of view and taking a moment with this track to appeal more directly to those that adhere to the words of the Bible as the gospel intended.
I think the vibe on “Ride Wit Me” restores the record back to its original high standards. I think “Burn” is still a decent song, but I’d fully admit that content-wise it runs in a different direction than any of the other tunes seem to. The vocal hooks on “Ride Wit Me” are bold & bright in the mix and the music of this second to last cut from Gospel Bass Vol. 1 Ridin Music was easily some of my favorite on the entire album. Talk about a great cut to listen to! “Ride Wit Me” is nearly minimalist in its style…there are only so many things happening throughout the chill tempo of this cut, but absolutely every element sparkles and shines, truly complementing the overall idea and adding something important to the music along the way. The clever transitions and notable differences in the parts of this song not only lead to their own captivating results, but it’s definitely another achievement in the way that Soul Recruiter is able to combine sound in a variety of ways that hit the mark. Audibly enticing from every angle you can listen to it from, “Ride Wit Me” brings up the energy just enough, professionally controlled and designed to deliver that stunning mix of sound that has made this entire record an exceptional listening experience.
“Divine Love” ends the album, bringing it back to the themes of love & religion to conclude the record in a subtle style that makes a noteworthy impact. The clarity in this final cut is exquisite to listen to – it’s just as much of a ‘Divine Track’ as it is “Divine Love” here…it expresses a remarkable atmosphere that is also truly unlike any other on the album in many ways. Slow-moving in all the right ways, when the intensity increases, it’s through the delivery in the vocals and the importance of the message being put forth…the music itself will remain wonderfully mysterious in its sound and continue to maintain its cool. The vocals are used more as an instrument within this final song, often adding in that one more layer to what we hear to give it all the right opportunities to keep our attention undivided. “Divine Love” was a fantastically engaging last switch in the sounds offered throughout this record, and the sentiment & echoes of ‘love’ that run though the atmosphere were definitely the right note to leave us on. Because while the world may hate you, as the “Intro” of this record initially expressed, it’s ultimately “Divine Love” in all of its forms that’s going to save it. An excellent way to conclude the entire experience – Soul Recruiter is making faith-based music with a fresh perspective that I can’t even begin to imagine how many people will appreciate. Whether religion is or isn’t your thing – once more I’d be willing to bet that we’d all agree that an extraordinary effort has been made on Gospel Bass Vol. 1 Ridin Music and that the results are a true revelation in sound that’s vibrantly fresh and engaging at every moment.
Find out more about Soul Recruiter at the official website: http://soulrecruitermusic.com/