You can gaze upward and get down at the same time. At least these guys can. The North Carolina gospel quartet serve up all the heavenly harmonies, reverent melodies and organ-laced spirituals you expect on this debut album. But they also let down their hair and kick up their heels with some tracks that feature gruffer vocals and rougher southern-fried arrangements more suited to Saturday night than Sunday morning. Can they get an Amen? Hell yes they can.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Harmony is serious business where the Dedicated Men of Zion come from. For their eldest member Anthony “Amp” Daniels, it was so serious that every day his mother would call her children inside, turn off the television, and make them sing in harmony, talk in harmony, do everything in harmony. Singing well together was a virtue that she and her sisters had learned from their own father, and Anthony gave it to his children in return. Older folks in the Black communities of rural North Carolina relied on that singing for everything in a time when both respect and money were especially scarce. “That’s where that seriousness is from,” Amp remembers. “They demand respect. They’re serious about what they do and they don’t play with God.” The Dedicated Men of Zion came up out of this singing land of eastern North Carolina, around the city of Greenville and its small neighboring town of Farmville. Each trained in the church and the home, the group’s four vocalists — Anthony Daniels, Antwan Daniels, Dexter Weaver, and Marcus Sugg — share the bond of that upbringing and another more literal bond of kinship (they’re all family now through blood or marriage). The Dedicated Men of Zion’s Can’t Turn Me Around was recorded in Memphis at Delta-Sonic Sound in 2019. Backed by an all-star studio band, the recordings bring great depth to the incredible harmonies that soar above. The album marks a moment of clarity for the group. By embracing their roots, they knew they were pointedly taking a right turn where some of their peers had veered left in a race to make gospel sound like anything other than what it was back in the day: soul music. Each track on Can’t Turn Me Around comes from that overflowing heritage of sacred soul. Tradition sets a high standard of excellence. What more can new artists pour into that cup? The Dedicated Men of Zion accepted that challenge with the seriousness of their raising and the joy of spiritual inspiration. With their second album they get back to where they came from — soul and the salvation of harmony. In Anthony Daniels’ own words, “You want to live, get to where the root is. Get close to the root.”