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On the Right Road Now

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Album Review

Based out of Hampton Roads, VA, the Paschall Brothers work in the African-American "jubilee quartet" tradition which emerged shortly after the Civil War in the Reconstruction South and they practice a further refinement of the form by singing in the regional folk-gospel style inherent to the southeastern tip of Virginia, the so-called Tidewater tradition. Generally done a cappella with a lead voice out in front of precise four-part harmonies, the tradition allows for astounding clarity and modulation in the vocals and retains a distinct African lilt and rhythm. The Paschall Brothers aren't an insular bunch intent on the tight interpretation of tradition, however, and one can hear the influence of the Temptations, the Persuasions, and Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers in the mix along with traces of barbershop quartets and the street corner energy of early doo wop. There are no backing instruments on this delightful, crisp set from Smithsonian Folkways but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of vitality and rhythm going on, and tracks like the call and response "Ease My Troublin' Mind," "Jesus Gave Me Water" (originally done by Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers) and "I'll Be Satisfied" (originally sung by the late Rev. Frank Paschall, Sr., who founded the Paschall Brothers when he was still singing with the Gospel Vocalaires) have a bright, airy brilliance that is refreshing, redemptive, and uplifting as the first spring breeze at the end of a long, dark winter. Saving souls undoubtedly can be dreary, difficult work but the Paschall Brothers figure it's a whole lot easier if those souls are first uplifted and filled with buoyant joy, after which they float effortlessly on up to heaven accompanied by these marvelously exuberant and magical harmonies. It's like that.


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Formed in March 1981 in Norfolk, VA, by Rev. Frank A. Paschall, Sr., and five of his seven sons, the Paschall Brothers (they were known in those early days as Rev. Frank Paschall & the Pasachall Brothers) specialized in the African American roots gospel sound that emerged in the wake of the Civil War, working in the regional style that came to be known as Tidewater gospel. The lineup changed in 1984 when two of the brothers left the group and Renard Freeman came aboard, giving rise to the group's...
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On the Right Road Now, The Paschall Brothers
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