For the best part of two decades now, 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 Europe and beyond.
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, due this June.
Tradition comes at a time when Soothsayers music and political message couldn’t be any more needed. 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 Cornell Campbell).
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.
“One of the UK’s finest reggae bands” – David Rodigan (BBC 1XTRA)