William Prince: Gospel First Nation
That signature warm bearhug of a voice shines on a gentle country gospel tune.
By Kerry Doole
William Prince -Gospel First Nation (Six Shooter Records): With scarcely any advance fanfare, William Prince's new album, Gospel First Nation, arrives tomorrow (Oct. 23). It comes hot on the heels of his critically-acclaimed and award-winning sophomore release, Reliever, one that brought the Indigenous roots singer/songwriter the 2020 SOCAN Songwriting Prize (for the track The Spark), and the German Record Critics’ Award for Album of the Year, and should have made the Polaris Prize shortlist. Prince also won a 2017 Juno Award for Best Contemporary Roots Album for his debut record, Earthly Days.
A label press release describes Gospel First Nation as "a 21st Century Northern-Interlake-Country-Gospel collection that tells stories of family and faith in an age of grief." This is clearly an album of great personal resonance for Prince, who grew up in a faith-based family in Manitoba. In fact, the album cover depicts The Prince Memorial Chapel, a one-room, wood-sided building, that has stood in Peguis First Nation in Manitoba since 1929.
The press release also notes that "on Gospel First Nation, William Prince tells his story through the music of his childhood, songs of faith, struggle and grace. These are songs he learned and sang with his father in that chapel named for his great grandfathers, all preachers." Prince's preacher father actually put out three albums, and a young William would accompany his dad on guitar as they travelled through First Nations communities.
The title track and first single sets the tone neatly. This is not the rousing massed voices type of gospel, but rather takes a soulful and meditative country/gospel approach, one that perfectly suits Prince's signature warm bearhug of a voice.
It is one of three Prince originals on the album that was written earlier this year. “We are living through an age of grief; grieving our lives, routines and families at the hand of a pandemic. I found myself wishing to return to this place of comfort amidst all the chaos," Prince explains.
Check out Prince's eloquent artist statement about the album here. Season 2 of The Sunday Verse, Prince’s companion audio cast, launches on Nov. 1.
Publicity: Emily Smart, Six Shooter
Management: Shauna de Cartier, Six Shooter
Booking agent: Jeremy Giacomin @ Paquin