In many ways, Cold World almost plays like a live album. Songs are nearly all composed of Shelton's unique raspy growl lead, the Queens' unified and powerful backups and a five-piece band. Sonically, this is a vintage soul record, down to the tambourines and tape hiss: nothing seems overthought or overproduced; performances are captured rather than assembled. Songs like "Bound For The Promised Land" are fuelled by funky tandem guitar and piano stabs that will make any shoulders bounce. "I Earned Mine" is a cheeky banjo-steered celebratory jamboree from someone who's certainly paid her dues over the last few decades. Cliff Driver's haunting organ opens up "Get Up Child" only to be injected with a progressively faster dominant clap rhythm as the Gospel Queens wage war on lethargy.
The only downside to the album's stripped down sound is that while it makes for a solid play from start to finish, there isn't much differentiation, making it easy to forget which track is which amongst the dozen offerings. Don't let the religious nature of this record throw you; Cold World is a collection a funky feel good songs that anyone can get into, dogma be damned. (Daptone)