Reviews Zone

Chanda Rule & Sweet Emma Band: Hold On (PAO Records / Membran) Digital: 22nd May 2020 – CD: 31st July



3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)




A charming offering from a young American artist now based in Europe, with promise for the future. Her “difficult second solo album”, with a gospel core, but soulful r&b flavours too.

Nine tracks. Seven traditional songs, arranged (five have updated lyrics) by Chanda Rule and her band, plus Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday” from his Sacred Music Concerts which ends the set, and “I’ll Fly Away” by Albert Brumley, which has been covered by bluegrass icon Alison Krauss and by country star Alan Jackson.

Recorded in June 2018 in Vienna. The songs all originally written and sung by unnamed and undocumented African American mothers, fathers, workers, prisoners, preachers, sons and daughters.

Chanda’s vocals ably abetted by trumpeter Mario Rom, Osian Robert on tenor sax, Paul Zauner on trombone who also produced the album, Jan Korinek on Hammond organ and drummer/percussionist Christian Salfellner.

Guesting are Chicago blues harmonica star Billy Branch on the opener “Another Man Done Gone” and tabla player Avirbhav Verma also on the first track, and on “Sun Goes Down”.

Rooted in gospel, with sweet soul and jazz flavours, singer and songwriter Chanda Rule was brought up in Chicago, where she sang as a youngster.

She then lived in New York where she met her husband and relocated to his native Austria, and she is now Vienna-based. She is a singer, songwriter, storyteller, published writer, ordained minister and speaker.

As a vocalist, she has opened for Kamasi Washington, India.Arie, Regina Bell and The Whispers.

Chanda’s debut album “Sapphire Dreams” dropped in 2019, originals and old favourites, recorded with the legendary Detroit pianist Kirk Lightsey, one of jazz great Dexter Gordon’s favourite sidemen.

She was featured on “Feeling Good: A Tribute to Nina Simone”  with sax powerhouse Donny McCaslin. “Sinnerman”, the penultimate cut on “Hold On”, is a well known Nina Simone cover. Chanda appears on many albums and recordings as a guest vocalist.

Chanda’s band named after a renowned pianist and singer from New Orleans who sang in the Preservation Hall, and to whom Nat and Cannonball Adderley dedicated their song “Sweet Emma”.

Her voice is fairly powerful with a good range, controlled and passionate. Her delivery gives the impression this project was a real labour of love and hugely important to Chanda as an African American woman and artist.

As a new name to me before this album popped up, I do look forward to seeing what she has to offer in the near future.


By Christopher Weston



1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’





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