Reviews – THE SPIRITUALAIRES ..Singing Songs Of Praise .... (CASE103)

eMUSIC Feature
Follow link to read whole feature; here is just the last paragraph:
"The Spiritualaires mix and match genres, borrowing from the blues and drawing from jubilee and Golden Age styles. This album has a remarkably relaxed vibe to it; it's truly a one-of-a-kind recording -- and I wouldn't mind hearing many more of its kind! The release does raise one question, though: How many more awesome and unheard gospel acts are out there singing on the radio and in churches? I'm confident there are at least a couple dozen still going strong -- and that CaseQuarter is already out there looking for them." - Michael James McGonigal

KFJC Radio
I think we’ve all spent some time in our own private Hurtsboro? Even as a charismatic agnostic, this gets an “Amen” from me. Gospel, like its savior, works in mysterious ways…and genres. It can draw strength from suppressed sexuality via soul, it can get earthy in a country vein (like a miner baptised in a coal mine). Or, as the Spiritualaires do, it can dig deep inside via the blues. If you are in pain, something about a profound bass vocal gives you a rock to build from, fill that out with some sweet harmonies but don’t rush things. Let the notes and the pain linger, just a bit. Add in slow clap, it help with the weariness. Not too fast, now. Guitarist Curtis Harris testifies in tight spots here as well, delivers his own slow-mo Mali style fretting…you could plug him in next to Tinariwen and not miss a beat. Radio fans do not miss tracks #3 and #8, clips from the Spiritualaires Radio Program! “If that car run good and look bad…bring it on in…he’ll make it look good.” Sounds like a modern-day miracle worker to me! KFJC should do all our underwriting in Spiritualaires style. “Some Folk Say” brings in a falsetto voice, and a peppier beat, and almost tastes like a hootenanny. While I may reserve judgement regarding the big If in the sky, I’m fine worshipping the pride and joy of Hurtsboro." - Thurston Hunger

"Free from artifice or avarice, their music works like spirit-cleansing sacrament, the ingestion of which induces instant feelings of brotherly love. Spinning the disc on a morning commute, I consequently found myself joyfully singing and clapping along. This music has that sort of spontaneously rejuvenating effect and whether the words reach you on a devotional level or a visceral one, it's intoxicating stuff. The prolonged gestation periods that are common for CaseQuarter projects may test the faithful's patience, but darn if this disc doesn't make it three for three on their scripture-conscious scorecard. - DEREK TAYLOR

Highest Rating: 4/4 Bunnies
"As one of the last remaining quartets from gospels golden age, these old-timers from Hurtsboro, Alabama lay out their songs with languid soul. The harmonies are magical, and the guitar playing is perfect. This is the best hangover music of the 21st century, by far." - Leopold Froehlich

THE NEW YORK TIMES (Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007)
"Singing Songs of Praise is the first album by the Spiritualaires of Hurtsboro, Alabama, a gospel group whose members have been singing together for half a century. Studio sessions from 2004 are interspersed with songs (and commercials) from the Spiritualaires'
long-running Sunday-morning radio show. The sound is sparse, five voices backed only by an electric guitar, in music that encompasses sustained close-harmony songs, a bluesy shuffle and even a country gospel song. And the very basic recordings make the Spiritualaires sound eerie as well as devout." - Jon Pareles

Above is a link to the May 2007 archive; click and scroll on down the page for another expert review by Bob Marovich.

"The album production is highlighted by the slow, ghostly pitch-perfect harmonies of the group, but what really sets this recording apart is the firm, rhythmic bluesy guitar playing of Curtis Harris, which is the lone instrumental accompaniment on the record. His playing is firmly rooted in the Lightnin' Hopkins tradition of boogie pickin', which, as we all know, is the root of most modern American music. Elements of blues, country, and early rock 'n' roll are all weaved into the vocal tapestry as well. It's pretty astonishing to hear how many musical references are contained within this framework, and it's a joy to finally have this music recorded for all to hear." - [DH]

"Radio has always been the step between books and TV, before, that is, TV took over both the imagining and the sound. This CD is a program of spirituals from one of the last a cappella gospel quartets from the ‚50s recorded from radio broadcasts and some studio sessions. What sets this CD apart from the more modern recordings of such groups is the lack of high tech production values and the inclusion of a couple of tracks where the group and announcers welcome the audience and advertise their sponsors. Such 'down-home' vibes contribute to a warm, welcoming ambience that sets off a stellar gospel set that reaches deep into a tradition that formed much of the music we listen to today. The inclusion of a blues-based guitar in this context also throws some surprising light onto the common home of two previously exclusive genres. A solid, plain solo on "I've Got Somewhere to Lay My Head" spells out the connection that instrumental soloing had with vocal expression. For a more modern connection check out Cobain's solos on any Nirvana track -- he's basically copying the vocal line. The blues and gospel have often been uncomfortable with each other but on this recording have reconciled their differences and come together in praise." - Nilan Perera

The Spiritualaires of Hurtsboro, Alabama Singing Songs of Praise
"Rarely do you get more info than that in a group name and LP title. That's who whey are, where they're from and what they do. The Spiritualaires are one of the last old style gospel groups, with a six decade career, still performing and hosting a weekly radio spot. Six decades. You bet they had time to get their singing down, and they have. One of the unique aspects of their sound is the spare, bluesy electric guitar accompaniment under the vocals on some songs--a really cool, rough sound that sets it apart from the soulful vocals. Sends chills up my spine. Most of this CD was recorded by Richard Young at LeElAn Studios in Montgomery, Alabama, in one day, plus four songs were recorded during their radio show on WBIL AM in Tuskegee, Alabama by Steve Grauberger. The studio tracks have a definite room sound--you feel you're in a room with these guys singing live. The radio perfromances have a slighty rougher sound, and quests come in and out so you even hear the doors squeaking--a touch I kinda liked to be honest! I really like their shout outs to their sponsers. If you think about it, isn't it one of the highest callings of recording being able to capture something like this--a group of impassioned men singing their hearts out and preserving it for posterity?" - Larry Crane

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