Album Reviews

The Reverend Shawn Amos

Breaks It Down

Artist:     The Reverend Shawn Amos

Album:     Breaks It Down

Label:     Put Together Records

Release Date:     02.16.18

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With so much going crazy in modern life, we can use a dose of real love to remind us what’s important. Why do people cling to divisiveness and hate? Shouldn’t the world be better than this? As Shawn Amos straight-facedly asks, in sum, Why can’t we hold hands?

It’s an over-familiar mix of themes, but the Right Reverend brings it to vivid life with charm and spirit. That’s not just a stage name either, by the way—Amos actually is an ordained minister, and his best way of bringing us all to church is with the power of healing music. He doesn’t shy away from problems in his own life or the world at large, but looks at them through the lens of communion and hope.

On the short but sweet Breaks It Down, the recipe consists of raw blues, bright Motown R&B and clear-eyed soul, all with an earnestness that keeps the peace-and-love vibe far from cloying. The sly Delta groove of “2017” should stay fresh much longer than that title will, and it’s hard to imagine the likes of the multi-part “Freedom Suite” becoming dated at all.

Amos’s warm voice and snappy harmonica bring those down-home roots to everything he tackles, whether rendering a 1960s civil-rights anthem beautifully a capella, hollering through a gritty David Bowie cover, or crooning “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” straight from the gospel pulpit with organ and mini-choir. Preaching no particular religion but proudly keeping the faith with humanity, Breaks It Down is a warmhearted treat for skeptics and believers alike.

—Geno Thackara

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