Gabriels – ‘Bloodline’ EP review: an increasingly captivating project

After a stunning run of live shows in the UK, the truly special LA group build on a totally original voice

Following breakout success in late 2020 with debut EP ‘Love and Hate in a Different Time’ — a record that’s garnered acclaim from Elton John, and landed the LA outfit appearances on Jimmy Kimmel and Jools Holland — Gabriels return this winter with four tracks of brooding nu-gospel on the ‘Bloodline’ EP. It’s also the band’s first release since their sensational performances in London this autumn, and finds them in the kind of expansive form those dynamic debut shows had signposted.

Gloomy brass, smooth double bass and a swooping string section carve out a vivid atmosphere on lead single ‘Blame’ – a track that wouldn’t sound out of place playing over the closing credits of Succession, so squirrelling are its tightrope-walking melodies and sharp, shrieking string crescendos. Powerful vocalist and noted choir master Jacob Lusk — who recalls both Anohni and Sam Smith in equal measure here — is in mercurial form as he navigates a tonal shift with the lyrics “Not a slave if I’m already free, not a captive if it’s where I want to be.”

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“Ain’t love a hypocrite?” Lusk bellows, in ear-catching fashion, on the death-crawling opener ‘Innocence’ – a menacing fusion of droning piano chords and rumbling orchestral drum hits. ‘Stranger’ then marries electronic whirrs and throbbing sub-bass with traditional instrumentation such as horns, gliding violins and bright pianos, in a manner that recalls the experimental works of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – before a dynamic shift is roused off the back of Lusk’s harmonised vocal projections. Closing track ‘Bloodline’, meanwhile, is a smoky odyssey that conjures an image of whisky-stained jazz bars in old Hollywood movies. The track offers a brassy lurch as Lusk howls: “Your ancestors blood fed the soil and the sand.”

While it flaunts a distinct sound that feels at once contemporary and steeped in American musical history, this second EP lacks a rousing anthem to the effect of breakout track ‘Love and Hate in a Different Time’. But that’s more to the band’s power. ‘Bloodline’ is an EP that offers a greater insight into the master craftsmanship of a project that is proving increasingly captivating.

Details

  • Release date: December 3
  • Record label: Atlas Artists
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