If Elton John is calling something “one of the most seminal records I’ve heard in the past 10 years”, odds are you should be paying attention. The song in question was Love and Hate in a Different Time, taken from a debut EP of the same name – a recent release from the LA-based group Gabriels.
The trio comprises gospel singer and choir director Jacob Lusk (possibly you’ll remember his astounding, tender voice from American Idol in 2011) alongside producers Ryan Hope and Ari Balouzian. The story goes that, back in 2016, Hope and Balouzian had been working on a film together (director and soundtrack respectively), and in searching for a choir for the project they came across Lusk. Via a few years of makeshift recordings in a rental property in LA, and experimenting with a range of sonics, they began to release music.
Together, they make warming songs that vibrate with feeling, careening between decades. They channel everything from Flamingos-era doo-wop to yearning jazz; glossy, swooning soul, classic R&B, vibrant gospel choirs with flourishes of airy electronics. One of their music videos features footage of Lusk singing Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit through a megaphone at a Black Lives Matter protest last year, anchoring their sound in the searing present.
In many ways, Gabriels’ sound is one that runs the gamut of Black American music history, aching with love and loss, all while swelling with hope.
Love and Hate in a Different Time is out now on Atlas Artists