Ones to watch: Gabriels | Soul

If Elton John calls something “one of the most groundbreaking albums I’ve heard in the last 10 years,” you should probably be careful. The song in question was Love and Hate in a Different Time, taken from a debut EP of the same name – a recent release by the LA-based group Gabriels.

The trio consists of gospel singer and choirmaster Jacob Lusk (you may remember his amazing, delicate voice from American Idol in 2011) and producers Ryan Hope and Ari Balouzian. The story goes that Hope and Balouzian were working together on a film (direction and soundtrack) back in 2016 and came across Lusk while looking for a choir for the project. After a few years of makeshift recordings in an LA apartment building and experimenting with a range of sounds, they began releasing music.

Together they make warming songs that vibrate with emotion and fluctuate between the decades. They channel everything from flamingo-era doo-wop to yearning jazz; shiny, impotent soul, classic R&B, vibrating gospel choirs with airy electronic curlicues. One of her music videos shows footage of Lusk singing Billie Holidays Strange Fruit through a megaphone during a protest against Black Lives Matter last year, anchoring her sound in the burning presence.

In many ways, Gabriels’ sound is one that spans the gamut of black American music history, aching with love and loss as it swells with hope.

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