The strong and soulful singing of Christopher Peyton carries the 13 fantastic tracks that make up Sinners Got Soul Too with conviction and assurance. The release of this album is the latest step on a pretty unpredictable journey that's taken the artist from the churches of Virginia (where his father was a Pentecostal preacher) to the clubs of Ibiza, where he gained fame as a vocalist for house producers.
Those influences are at once felt, embraced and transcended on this new release, which combines soul and gospel flourishes with tip-top pop production values, resulting in a set that's much more eclectic and emotionally satisfying than the dancefloor would allow. Peyton spreads his wings on this record, and the results are beautiful to behold.
As the song titles - "Keep on Rising," "I'll Rise," "A Higher Place," "All Ways Up" - suggest, the element of uplift in the lyrics could become repetitious. Yet the songs emerge as individual, characterful and not too glossy overall. In collaboration with producer James Reynolds, Peyton puts distinctive spins on the material with committed vocals and smart musical approaches. The album's cohesiveness is particularly impressive given that a couple of the featured tracks (such as the aforementioned "A Higher Place") first emerged some years ago.
The immediate standout is "When They Go Low," an impeccable piece of stirring power pop which, of course, takes its title from a certain famed National Democratic Convention speech, and even comes complete with a Michelle Obama sample. The spare exhortation of the opener "Keep on Rising," the confident bustle of "Carry You," the funky reggae textures of "Joy," the luscious hymnal love song "Be My Enough," the combative crunch of "Jericho," and the sweeping, cinematic closer "My Song 4 U" prove equally infectious and appealing.
Quieter, lower-key moments, such as an acoustic take on Ben Harper's setting of Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise" and a heartfelt cover of "True Colors," also register. About as good as contemporary pop music gets, it's easy to imagine several of these uplifting and addictive songs becoming huge hits. They deserve to be.
Sinners Got Soul Too is released on 9 February. Peyton plays at Pizza Express, Holborn (17 January), Pizza Express , Birmingham (10 February), and Crazy Coqs, London (16 February). Further information here.