Sweet Spirit

St. Mojo (Nine Mile)

Texas Platters

Imprisoned glam rock pioneer Gary Glitter would be devastated to hear Sweet Spirit's new single. "The Power" not only unfolds with the same pounding floor tom as his signature "Rock & Roll Part 2," it threatens to unseat the 1972 opus as the genre's most compelling offering. The song, already dominating local airwaves, contains all the makings of a radio anthem: a universal message of overcoming youthful insecurity, a memorable chant ("I got the power here inside of myself"), triumphant melodies wherein grungy guitar riffs melt into horns and keys, and quirky spoken word sections. "When I was a little girl, my mama gave me a bowl cut and told me I looked like Dorothy Hamill," confesses Sabrina Ellis in the breakdown. "Everywhere we went people would say, 'What a cute little boy!' Well I'm all grown up nowwwwwwww!" Austin's pre-eminent frontwoman obviously sidestepped becoming a figure skating icon during the Seventies, but on Sweet Spirit's sophomore full-length, she emerges as an Olympian singer. Ellis' massive musical personality didn't fully translate on the homegrown nonet's celebrated 2015 debut Cokomo, but nowwwwwwww, St. Mojo – produced by Los Lobos multi-instrumentalist Steve Berlin – pushes her dynamic juggling of humor, heart, and hysteria to the forefront. The melodically gifted band, co-led by soulful rocker Andrew Cashen, arrives equally transformed, embracing its status of loud pop revolutionaries and stretching into new stylistic corners elevating Sweet Spirit from the "indie rock" ghetto. Thus spins a diverse platter of shooby-doo-wop (Cashen's album highlight "Pretty Baby"), melodramatic piano suites ("The Mighty," "The Better It Feels Today"), Loretta Lynn-style country ("Far From Home"), party garage rock (Baywatch ode "Pamela"), and contemporary radio bait ("Salvation"). Any track off the 11-pack could be a single for your average band, but few groups today match the mojo of Sweet Spirit. (CD release: Barracuda, Fri., March 31)

****

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