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R&B/Soul - Released October 11, 2019 | Colemine Records

No aspect of He's on Time, the debut release from the Harlem Gospel Travelers, points to it being a product of the year 2019. The rich and jubilant songs, the dusty production, and even the slightly psychedelic cover art all look to the sound and style of '60s gospel soul and the culture that surrounded it. The quartet was organized by music industry veteran Eli "Paperboy" Reed, and he put together both the funky backing band and arranged the studio sessions that resulted in He's on Time's retrofitted production and celebratory air. The album begins with "Oh Yes He Will," an upbeat gospel stomp where slinky guitar, busy bass, and full-force drums back up the spirited gospel harmonization of the four singers. It harkens back to the most raved-up moments of original gospel soul bands like the Sensational Nightingales, the Swan Silvertones, and Sam Cooke's early gospel group the Soul Stirrers. The wah-wah guitars of "Am I Doing Enough?" and the overblown drum sound and energetic tambourine of the title track continue the nostalgic bent of the album. What does transcend era and production earmarks are the Harlem Gospel Travelers' vocal talents both in lead and backing roles. The slow and swimmy ballad "If You Can't Make It Through a Storm" finds Thomas Gatling taking the lead as the remainder of the quartet -- Asher Bethune, Stephen Pedley, and George Marage -- back him with gentle, floating harmonies. The song, like much of album, feels dreamlike and joyous. In its moments of soft balladry and rocking soul workouts alike, the entirety of He's on Time is alien, magical gospel music. Drawing on the past, the Harlem Gospel Travelers manage to create something beautiful and new. ~ Fred Thomas