We like to think that we introduce a lot of great music to our readers, but sometimes they introduce great music to us. The Rebirth is this year's prime example. In December 2005, SoulTrackers voted in the Rebirth as the Top Group in our Readers Choice Awards, and we had yet to even review the group's debut album, This Journey In. Well, the readers were right.
The LA-based The Rebirth consists of keyboardist Carlos "Loslito" Guaico, lead vocalist Noelle Scaggs, drummer Chris Taylor, guitarist Patrick Bailey, bassist Gregory Malone, percussionist Raul Gonzalez and keyboardist Mark Cross. The group has been an underground favorite for years via through their live performances as well as their contributions to various CD compilations. But it was 2005's This Journey In, on Kajmere Sound/KSD Music label, that brought major attention for the group.
The Rebirth's sound rides the border between soul and acid jazz and fits in well with such groups as Incognito or Soul II Soul. And This Journey In is an auspicious international debut for this talented group. Their instrumentation and arrangements are right on, and with Scaggs attractive vocals up front, This Journey In makes for a funky, melodic journey front-to-back. Equally impressive is the group's songwriting, especially on the first half of the disc, which is crowded with cool, infectious tracks such as the title cut, "Stray Away" and the bouncy "Shake It." Intelligent lyrics, creative arrangements and an ever-present groove may not be enough to get popular airplay for an album like This Journey In, but the combination makes it one of the best underground soul albums you'll hear this year. In fact, it sounds like you may have heard it before we did. Highly recommended.
By Chris Rizik