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Various Artists The Time For Peace Is Now

The Time For Peace Is Now
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Succeeding a 2017 compilation of the latter-day devotional music of Alice Coltrane, The Time For Peace Is Now is the second instalment in Luaka Bop's World Spirituality Classics series, unearthing a treasure trove of prime 70s gospel soul.

It seems unusual for a series on 'world spirituality' to focus on Western popular music so early in its run, but this perhaps speaks to the urgency of the message. Songs deplore the "condition that the world is in", lament that "we don't love enough". The time for peace is right now.

The gospel roots of this music are most strongly felt in the call-and-response vocal arrangements; lead vocalists are met by group choruses, allowing for emotional counterpoint and depth. On 'That's A Sign Of The Times' by The Floyd Family Singers, a distraught lead trades the titular refrain with a more resigned chorus. On The Soul Stirrers' 'I'm Trying to Be Your Friend', the backing is dark, ghostly and haunting.

Meanwhile the record's centrepiece, 'Keep Your Faith in the Sky' by Willie Scott & The Birmingham Spirituals, conveys a more hopeful feeling. It's hard to imagine music more beautiful: a lush cloudscape of blissful guitar, skyward-soaring piano and yearning vocals. In lieu of a bridge, Rev. Randy Wilson descends like a heaven-sent radio DJ, compelling the listener in spoken word to cease worrying, sit back and enjoy the good vibes. The message isn't perfectly satisfying - 'faith' alone cannot solve the world's problems - but in its musical beauty, it provides a vision of a world to be striven for.

Andrew Trayford

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