Gabriels might only have two EPs under their belt but they are without a doubt one of the most stunning acts to release music in 2021. Sporting the talents of rapturous gospel singer and choir director Jacob Lusk and his two co-producers — the classically trained musician/soundtrack artist Ari Balouzia and director Ryan Hope — Gabriels’ craft sublimely vintage soul and R&B informed by eclectic modern experimentalism. Meeting by both chance and perhaps a bit of providence, Gabriels was formed when Hope and Balouzian met with Lusk at a casting session, hoping to enlist his help finding a choir for their film. Lusk got the part but the two producers reached out to him afterward to discuss working on a new experimental project — eventually relocating to Palm Desert to begin working on songs.
Their recent release in Bloodlines accentuates their burgeoning sound, which the group spent five years honing in on after they met in 2016. The four-song tracklist is a flooring lesson on the Gabriels’ spaciously sonorous ballads, punctuated as they are by Lusk’s Herculean and momentous vocal hefts. But it was their debut EP Love and Hate In A Different Time that first ignited the group’s breakout success. And we’d expect nothing less from an EP whose title-track Elton John called “one of the most seminal records” of the last 10 years.
On every song, the trio behind Gabriels finds themselves the holders of a lightning-rod of emotion, channeling it all through the inseparable harmony of Lusk’s compelling wails and their swooning melodies. But the album and title-track also importantly intersects Lusk’s own upbringing — specifically his grandmother, who appears on the EP cover, and highlights for the singer the generational struggle against racism by the Black community. She’s also why in 2020 at a Black Lives Matter demonstration Lusk gave a spontaneous rendition of Billie Holiday’s anti-lynching song “Strange Fruit.”
So far the dynamic trio has only performed once which took place at the Los Angeles venue A Club Called Rhoda, giving a raw performance that has since left a void that can only be filled by their enraptured music. That’s all about to change in 2022 with the group promising a slew of tour dates as they embark on the road for the first time. If you’re looking to catch some seriously ecstatic soul and R&B look no further than the closest stops Gabriels will be making near you this year!
Gabriels will be on tour this spring with a date at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on March 16. Visit Gabriels’ website, Twitter, and Instagram to stay updated on new releases and tour announcements. Follow the band on Spotify.