"Birth" record release
For all the self-conscious dedication with which the roots rockers explore earlier styles, they all seem to overlook the gospel-tinged sound of the 1970s. It only flourished for a few years but this soulful and "authentic" genre included such powerhouse performers as Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, Janis Joplin and even Eric Clapton. That today's players ignore this material says a lot about how far they've drifted from rock's original foundation in R&B. Gospel is still one of the cornerstones of the mainstream, and the right artist can definitely make it work in a contemporary context. A perfect example is Spiritual Thunder, a local duo that gives the raw emotion of soul an ultracool alternative spin. The secret's in the vocals: Lead singer Pauline Houston has a towering set of pipes, and on the pair's accomplished debut disc, "Birth," she wails and moans with such authority that it neatly explains why more musicians don't attempt this style. The production and guitar-work of her partner, Robb McCall, are equally strong.
Ramsey Pennypacker, Philadelphia Weekly
Spiritual Thunder did what they do best at the 7165 Lounge in Philly when they brought the house down for an Obama re-election fundraiser this past Sunday. They performed along with Sharon Katz & the Peace Train, Monnette Sudler, Denise King and several other artists for this important event. "Honestly we usually stay away from political causes and events but in this case we made an exeption. There's just too much at risk in this particular case," explained guitarist Robb McCall. "Sharon Katz invited us and we're happy to be here." Along with musical compatriot Pauline Houston, this dynamic duo pulled out all the stops with a rollicking mixture of original folk soul blues and a few well-placed covers to keep the crowd engaged. Judging by the lines of dancers crowding the floor in front of the stage during their set, they most definitely succeeded.
Tara Nurin, Philly Standard
Spiritual Thunder performs for Obama's re-election
7165 Lounge, Philadelphia October 14 2012