Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens

Cold World

BY Michael J. WarrenPublished Jul 25, 2014

You'd be forgiven for assuming this is a straight gospel record. Song titles like "Thank You Lord" and "Heaven Is Mine" point to well documented subject matter, but Naomi Shelton disagrees. This is a soul record first and foremost, she claims, and upon listening to Cold World, one can see her point. This is Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens' sophomore release through Daptone Records, a label known for highlighting the talents of seasoned but lesser-known artists, and the trademark Daptone soul and funk sound is evident.

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.

Latest Coverage