Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Contemporary Quartet lovers will be pleased on Tuesday November 16th because the Soul Seekers CD will be available. The album is being released under My Block Records and Malaco Music Group.
The Soul Seekers are Teddy Campbell, Warryn Campbell, Nisan Stewart, John "Jubu" Smith, Gerald Haddon, Charlie Bereal, Craig Brockman, and Eric Seats.
The album features a fan favored song entitled "It's All God" and a cameo from Pastor Mavin Winans on "Come on Jesus". Other tunes include "Trust Me", "Take Your Burdens", and "Hold On".
"Gospel quartet music can be summed up as being God's blues. Although the good news seems to always reign prevalent in gospel, deeply embedded in those melancholy chords and guitar plunks is a story full of struggle and angst. The Soul Seekers try to inject their younger, cool experiences and a speck of James Brown funk into Delta's soul music. Since their debut, the power band - containing some of R&B and gospel's talented architects including John "Jubu" Smith, Nisan Stewart and Warryn & Teddy Campbell (Mary Mary) - have found some invigorated formula to put quartet music back in the spotlight. Their sophomore project, Soul Seekers II, expands on that platform.
After a James Brown-inspired intro, using a charismatic clad emcee using 'Star Time' punches, the eight-member outfit crank up the funky pacing with "Holding On" and experiment even further with their obvious pilgrimage into Mighty Clouds soul music on "He Rose". In this package, the quartet stretch themselves into a few new musical directions than usual with an emphasis on Chicago blues ("Trouble In My Way"), Bobby Womack soul ("Hang On") and even Johnny Cash country ("Time Has Made a Change"), but nothing on board is as relentless than the six-minute, Harold Lily-penned "It's All God." Marvin L. Winans adds a daily devotional by way of a sermonette to the mix, but the Soul Seekers' sensitive harmonies are enough to carry the song.
What plays in favor with the Soul Seekers' art is their combustible live sound, sounding like a natural road band and not some snazzy combo pieced together for an impromptu jam session. But besides them reviving the old time religion and retro grooves of black quartet music, the familiar staples and cliches in the lyrical department needs some amending. "It's Time To Make a Change" tries to break away from the familiar, but its pale storytelling feels like a closing narrative from a Tyler Perry script. Of course it's impossible to rewrite the Holy scriptures after being interpreted in so many ways through song, but it remains to be seen if newborn quartet groups will add anything lyrically refreshing to their presentations. Soul Seekers could very well do it, but they stall in their Bible re-telling on Soul Seekers II. It's more of the same ole, but with thicker arrangements and drum licks." -HifiMagazine
Personnel: John Jubu Smith, Charlie Bereal (guitar); Craig Brockman, Eddie Brown, Warryn Campbell (keyboards); Eric Seats, Teddy Campbell, Nisan Stewart (drums).
Audio Mixer: Bruce Buechner.
Recording information: Fever Recording Studios, North Hollywood, CA; Love And Unity Cogic, Long Beach, CA.
Photographer: Steven Taylor .
The Soul Seekers, as their name suggests, are a male gospel vocal group that employs a musical style largely derived from the soul era of R&B, basically the late 1960s and early `70s. Like the Temptations, they use both a gruff, baritone lead ("Holding On") and a high tenor ("Trust Me") in call-and-response arrangements. But they are intent upon bringing their listeners to Jesus Christ rather than romantic fulfillment. "Time Has Made a Change" has a country flavor to accompany its message decrying a loss of the old ways of doing things. For the most part, however, the Soul Seekers want to praise the Lord, as titles like "He Rose" and "It's All God" indicate. They are at their most soulful and stripped down on the closer, "Take Your Burdens," which begins with just a simple electric guitar accompaniment, focusing on the group harmonies, then builds. A live audience can barely be heard in the background, but they seem to be enjoying the Soul Seekers' performances as much as CD listeners are likely to. ~ William Ruhlmann