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Holy Ghost Power! the debut disc from Lafayette’s Mercy Brothers, is a gospel-rocking retro set of strong originals from veteran singer-songwriters Kevin Sekhani and Mark Meaux. Initially I couldn’t decide if the “Jesus Saves” theme was sincere or satire… until I decided it didn’t matter. The songs are hook-laden and wound tightly enough to get in your head and stay there no matter your object and/or level of devotion.
Though it’s a record full of quirks and surprises (a kazoo solo that doesn’t sound gimmicky, for example), the disc belies a full dose of serious musicianship and songcraft. Sekhani’s vocal range and passion is evident on every cut while Meaux gets a vacation from bandleader duties to focus on his amazing lead guitar chops (an area where he has never gotten his props, unfortunately, as one of this state’s finest players to ever string the instrument).
With song titles like “The Devil’s Food Tastes Like Cake” and lyrical leaps like “if you just can’t get your nose out of the powder… get some Holy Ghost Power” in the title track, it’s obvious this isn’t your average redneck tent revival fare. Sekhani and Meaux weave a wonderful open-ended quality into their songwriting that seems to ask more questions than provide answers, deftly sidestepping a peachiness that could easily kill a project like this.
“The 309” has an infectious Muscle Shoals groove (enhanced by producer Ivan Klisanin’s light touch) and “Rise Devil Rise” is a minor key stomp just ambiguous enough to remain an appropriate anti-Luciferian cipher.
In the end it matters not whether you believe or scoff. As the album’s subtitle states, these are “songs of the spirit from Both Sides.