Strut Records’s terrific series, Inspiration Information, pairs artists together to see what they come up with when they collaborate with others. Past entries have included Amp Fiddler / Sly & Robbie, Horace Andy / Ashley Beedle, Mulatu Astatke / The Heliocentrics and Tony Allen / Jimi Tenor, all of which are great projects. The latest chapter in the series puts Jamaican reggae legend Cornell Campbell in the studio with the London-based reggae and Afro-dub collective, Soothsayers. Together they’ve produced Nothing Can Stop Us and one listen will confirm they’re not kidding around.
Campbell has a long history working with top producers and talent in Jamaica, including “Coxsone” Dodd, Joe Gibbs, Bunny “Striker” Lee, King Tubby and Winston “Niney” Observer to name a few. His sweet, signature falsetto vocals are highly sought after and he sounds tremendous on this album. Campbell’s soulful approach matches the Afropop thrust of Soothsayers which comes as no surprise since the UK outfit has played with folks like Mulatu Astatke, Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Arkestra and Hugh Masekela. The core of the band even backed the London leg of the Fela! musical during 2011.
The roots of Nothing Can Stop Us stem from a chance meeting between Campbell and Robin Hopcraft, who leads Soothsayers with Idris Rahman, in Kingston a couple of years ago. They put together a session with Bunny Lee and produced “I’ll Never Leave,” an homage to Campbell’s island home in Parish of St. Elizabeth, several days later. That single set the ball in motion and fortunately led to this full-length release.
The hard-hitting grooves of Soothsayers provide a natural backing for Campbell to sing positive, conscious lyrics over. The driving rhythm section and solid, tight horn arrangements build a mighty dub as Soothsayers effortlessly mix reggae, funk and soul throughout Nothing Can Stop Us. While some collaborations seem like a one-off, Cornell Campbell & Soothsayers sound as if they’ve played together for years.
Listen to “With You My Heart Belongs” and “I’ll Never Leave” to get a taste of the record. Check out a nice video of Cornell Campbell and Soothsayers discussing working together on Nothing Can Stop Us below. Nothing Can Stop Us is available now on CD, LP and Digital formats.