Charles Moorer & The Faithful Few – Keeper Of My Soul

On their new album Keeper of My Soul, Charles Moorer & The Faithful Few continue their smooth, silky and infectious fusion of gospel and contemporary urban jazz, appealing equally to people of faith and secular audiences like very few religious based artists have ever done. Smooth jazz programmers will light up the minute they hear the lush instrumental version of “Think of Your Soul,” which begins with a colorful exotic twist, with African tinged vocals, before powering into a funky, freewheeling dance between Chuck’s hard slapping bass and Grammy nominated sax superstar Najee’s dreamy, sensual soprano. The mightily grooving track backs its snappy, hypnotic bass melody with soaring atmospheres shaded with lush sax harmony before getting into another snazzy bass/horn conversation that includes a few bars where the instruments play together. As the tune reaches its crescendo, the African chanting returns and Chuck lets loose even more.

“Adonai” opens with a blend of Mitchel Forman’s elegant jazzy piano, Nils’ jangling guitar and Michael Parlett’s whimsical flute before we’re graced with Chuck’s soothing inspirational lead vocal. Artfully fusing jazz, pop, soul and gospel, “Adonai’s” empowering message is that while we want to be in full control, we will find greater joys, soul power and peace of mind by surrendering our will to God and letting God be our guiding light. Wordless backing vocals by Clydene Jackson and Johnny Britt add elegance and texture to this stirring expression of faith.

The hypnotic opening bars of “Keeper of My Soul” remind us that while Chuck’s hypnotic soul vocals are always the focus of his gospel music, he’s a funky genius on bass, too. After the breezy intro continues with dreamy atmospheres inflected with Johnny Britt’s inimitable flugelhorn, Chuck as lead vocalist steps forward to deliver a tender musical love letter to God – reflecting on “every little thing you do for me,” God’s perfect timing and the divine’s role as his strength and refuge.

The emotional, infectious chorus emphasizes all that God has done and will do. The track also features more of Forman’s dynamic piano improvisations, lush horn harmonies and a fiery call and response section by Chuck and vocalist Clydene Jackson.

As the sole rap/hip-hop track on Keeper of My Soul, “The Reality Is” rolls as a bit of an outlier stylistically, but is on point and on message as far as making Christ the center of one’s life instead of all the temporary pleasures and dead ends that draw us in – like getting drunk, getting high and other activities that ultimately leave us feeling spiritually deprived. Though Chuck’s piccolo bass muses along for the ride, the real musical focus is on his late son, Chadwin Moorer’s cool rhymes and engaging flow, as well as the sparkling piano performance of Chuck’s late son Chadwin Moorer, accompanied by the infectious vocal accents of Paul Otis (Smooth P), picking up where he left off on the Divine Direction Project. Its vibe opens the project to a new and younger audience trying to find their way in the world.

The other tracks on the album include the vocal version of “Think of Your Soul,” with Chuck inviting us to make better choices in life as he and Najee amp up the bass and sax energy; the funky rocker “You Need Someone,” which showcases Chuck’s ample and fiery electric guitar skills; and “I’ll Trust,” an easy rolling tune featuring an ultimately soaring vocal about God leading us through trials and tribulations which features Chuck playing bass, lead guitar, piccolo bass, drums and percussion along with a beautiful and tender piano touch performed by Chuck’s personal piano player Carla Maxwell.

Jonathan Widran

Buy the album here.

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