Thursday, 5 February 2009

Chris Jasper - Invincible - Gold City Records

Chris Jasper, of course, was an integral part of the classic Isley Brothers’ sound. His plangent keyboard playing and vocal harmonies did much to make the Brothers’ sound so unique and instantly recognizable. Then, with Ernie and Marvin Isley, he crafted the remarkable ‘Caravan Of Love’ – a song that, because of its Housemartins'’ cover is generally seen as a pop confection. In reality, it’s a serious gospel song with a big message and in his own solo work Chris has regularly returned to the gospel theme. Now with this new 10 tracker we have the full-on gospel album – but if you’re a non-believer - don’t despair. This isn’t traditional, in-your-face gospel music. Rather, ‘Invincible’ is a collection of personal, reflective songs whose messages can be interpreted both spiritually and secularly. Musically, I’d describe the sound as Bobby Womack meets the Isleys – and that’s a heady cocktail, isn’t it? Many of the songs have that rolling, lolling flavour that’s so, so Womack. Throughout. the guitar sound has Bobby’s country-soul feel while the melodies could be straight out of the Womack song-book. Its most apparent on ‘Without Love’ while on ‘A New Life In Christ’ Chris even begins with the Womack trade marks “na…na…na”. The big difference though is that Chris’s vocal lacks the gritty Womack edge – but it still appeals. The closest to the old Isleys’ sound come with ‘He’s The Judge’ and the ‘Harvest For The World’-inspired ‘Thank You Lord’ . A real, mature soul album, this – and well-worth investigation.

Bill Buckley

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