Ollabelle Ollabelle

The power of gospel music has never been restricted to specific denominations, musical or otherwise. Unlike the false prophets in the born-again rock and rap fields, there is still nothing more moving than hearing a classic spiritual belted out with the conviction that its message deserves. That’s precisely what Ollabelle delivers on this debut album. The six-piece coalesced through Sunday night gospel jam sessions at a New York City bar, and after laying down the basic tracks for this album, quickly caught the attention of T-Bone Burnett, mastermind of the O Brother Where Art Thou? phenomenon. While nearly all the tracks are gospel standards, the group’s obvious reverence for Memphis soul creates a combination that is irresistible on their takes of "Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus” and "I’m Willing To Run All The Way.” Even their experiment to gospelise the obscure Stones’ nugget "I Am Waiting” succeeds by injecting a sense of resurrection. If they do stumble, it is in trying to mimic Tom Waits on "John The Revelator,” but otherwise this is an undeniably uplifting collection. Although Ollabelle insists on presenting themselves as a true collective, the most recognisable name is vocalist Amy Helm, daughter of the Band’s Levon Helm, and while it is disingenuous to make a direct comparison between the two, it’s safe to say that Ollabelle is carrying on that mighty legacy of Americana. (Columbia)