Title: Rebel Transmission
Label: Platinum Pop
Part block party and part tent meeting, Newworldson’s third studio recording, Rebel Transmission, is as eclectic and exuberant as ever, finding the Canadian band in fine spirits as they shift into global outreach mode.
The band’s sound still successfully fuses soul, funk, gospel, jazz, and pop into an uplifting package. Like fellow good-time group Denver and the Mile High Orchestra, Newworldson is a young group with an old soul. These boys obviously cut their teeth spinning the Motown greats, and they do well to pay tribute on Rebel Transmission, giving fans plenty to enjoy.
The album title comes from the opening title track, a gospel proclamation that has lead singer and primary songwriter Joel Parisien singing, “This is radio ghost town/Salvation plan in stereo sound/This a rebel transmission/Can anybody hear me now?” The album’s lead single, “Learning to Be the Light” is a piano-driven ballad that has peaked at No. 3 on Christian singles charts. Similarly, “Today” is a vertical worship-type anthem with a gentle arrangement that succeeds with a light touch.
Although it has the pop instincts, the old-school soul side of Newworldson is clearly the most fun on Rebel Transmission. “Homeless Child” is horn-fueled pop with a Motown beat that’s reminiscent of The Supremes’ hit “You Can’t Hurry Love.” “5, 6, 7, 8” features a straight-ahead rhythm section and a “na na na” chorus that’s similar to The Isley Brothers’ classic “Shout.” “Old Time Religion” blends doo-wop and gospel and a nice lyric (“How can you call it old time religion/when it’s right here and right now?”), and “Sweet Grace” is a rockabilly shuffle take on the prodigal son story. “Selah” has a toe-tapping zydeco stutter-step with a roadhouse piano and a call-and-response vocal that’s loads of fun.
On Rebel Transmission, Newworldson shows it’s a band which remains refreshing in its willingness to take its music down musical avenues not commonly traveled by artists of faith. In short, this album doesn’t sound like much found on Christian radio today. That’s a praiseworthy statement, and a testament to the foursome’s individual musicianship, which allows them to take chances with individual performances, making for an album that should be a hit.