The Gospel of Florence + The Machine

Florence Welch is unstoppable. After a week of steady listening to the raw gospel sound of Sister Gertrude Morgan remixed, I made a sonic transition into Florence + The Machine. In some ways, they’re not so different. You can hear in both the sounds of bliss, power, hope, heartache, and triumph.

Walking through downtown Philadelphia tuned into a Florence playlist, I felt like I heard a new sound in a few of her songs. Florence’s subtle nod to gospel can be heard throughout her catalogue. It’s influence is undeniable in a song like “Lover to Lover,” which shifts into a crashing gospel-tinged meltdown near the end. Not surprised to find there’s a ‘walk into the sea’ moment in the music video.

The gospel sound is clear as day in the frenzied spirit of her breakthrough hit “You’ve Got the Love.” Disco was about esctacy and release, and The Source and Candi Staton original is essentially an early gospel/disco mashup, cathartic in every way.

Florence Welch on how it feels to sing “You’ve Got the Love” –

“As a kid, going to clubs and raves, this song made me feel love. At Bestival last year we were top of the bill on that stage, so we were thinking of an amazing cover we could do, and I thought of Candi Staton. Even in rehearsals, playing it was just the most euphoric feeling. Then playing it live and seeing everyone’s arms in the air, and the faces – it was the best feeling ever! I was dressed as a genie sea-monster, and I remember looking at my guitarist as we played the first chords, and then there was the reaction and it was like tearing ourselves open and just exploding on the crowd, and they all did it back. It’s a feeling you couldn’t express.”

Her tale of performance reminds me of the great disco singer Sylvester, whose biography is one to read.

He would often compare the ecstatic feelings that accompanied his onstage performances with the feelings experienced in a gospel choir in a Pentecostal church. When performances reached a certain level of heightened emotion, he would comment that “we had service.” [from Wiki]

“You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” ‘Nuff said.

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