Rating: Oh lordy – yes please! I submit to you that Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens’ Cold World might possibly be the best Daptone Records release ever. Original sixties soul singer and Alabama-to-New York transplant Shelton first moved to the Big Apple way back in 1963 and now unleashes a twelve tracker of gospel soul with the best tunes I’ve ever heard out of Gabriel Roth and Neal Sugarman’s Brooklyn-based label.
Track titles are a mixture of the secular (Movin, It’s A Cold Cold World and One Day) and the more overtly gospel-themed – Sinner, Heaven Is Mine, and Thank You Lord – a balance which is also reflected in the lyrics. While her words may be directed towards the heavens however, listen to cuts like Bound For The Promised Land, It’s A Cold Cold World and Thank You Lord and there’s no doubt that this lady and her band are down with some very dirty funky soul. Naturally any Shelton drop is all about the voice and hers, even now, is everything you’d expect of a classic southern soul queen – all the soaring power of a gospel singer with a distinctive underlying rasp to give it all some righteous fire. Besides the funk, you’ll find this gracing doo-wop-ish numbers (Movin) smouldering torch songs (I Don’t Know), bluesy northern soul stompers (Get Up Child), happy clappers (I Earned Mine) and country funk (Humble Me). The Devil may have the best tunes according to popular belief but on the evidence of this, God’s not doing so badly. Most definitely in the monkey’s best LPs of the year, whatever follows in the next five months.
(Out 29 July on Daptone Records)