Out of Como, Missouri comes the American South's toughest power trio. The Como Mamas are the real thing. Ester Mae Wilbourn, Della Daniels and Angelia Taylor are the kind of natural talents that can push music outside of a category. This is a gospel record through and through, but you don't have to be a fan of the genre to appreciate its strengths.
On opener and title track "Move Upstairs," Taylor's lead vocal will command your attention, and earn more than a few comparisons to Mahalia Jackson, while highlight "Out of the Wilderness," would be a standout in any hip-hop DJ's set. The beat is thick and perfectly paced, and like the rest of the album, the vocals hit like a ton of bricks.
"Glory Glory Hallelujah" feels like a sequel to "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," as raspy, gritty vocals repeat: "I feel better, so much better, since I lay my burden down." If this album gets anywhere near the attention it deserves, this track will be a key reason for its success.
There is a temptation to describe music this deeply rooted in tradition as backward-looking. Move Upstairs challenges that; you don't have to be a churchgoer to recognize the positive, life-affirming role music this powerful can play. Given the state of things in the American South (not to mention various hotspots around the world), music this soulful is clearly timeless.
Next stop, GRAMMY Awards. (Daptone)