The Commissionaires

Jacob Moon | Joel Parisien

First Official Review of Shelter Me!

“Shelter Me” – everything you’d expect from two seasoned performers

Posted by Robert White in CD/Music Review



When I first heard Hamilton, Ont. guitarist/singer/songwriter Jacob Moon was teaming up with Niagara region keyboardist/singer/songwriter Joel Parisien I was excited about the prospect.

Moon uses looping technology to sound like a one-man band. The video of his cover of Rush’s “Subdivisions” has over half a million hits on YouTube and garnered praise from the trio itself. Parisien had fronted Newworldson, whose CD Rebel Transmission earned four 2012 Covenant Awards including Folk/Roots Album of the Year.

Juggling performance schedules and other projects, the pair performed as the yet-to-be-named band at last year’s Supercrawl in Hamilton, found time to begin recording and started releasing videos of the work in progress. By the end of 2016, The Commissionaires were launched and the band’s debut CD Shelter Me was released.

Shelter Me is everything you’d expect from a band fronted by two seasoned performers who have surrounded themselves with solid backup musicians. The CD’s eight songs are a showcase of rhythm and blues/soul/gospel songs from traditional classics like “His Eye is On the Sparrow” to Stevie Wonder’s 1970 hit “Heaven Help Us All.”

Parisien has earned the nickname “Soul Joel” for a reason. While researching some of the tracks on the CD, I happened to come across a YouTube video of singer/songwriter Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free.” Listening to it and then the Commissionaires version back-to-back, I found little difference between the two vocalists.

Two tracks stand out for me:

“None of Us are Free,” an R&B song first recorded by Ray Charles in 1993 which was also covered by Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1997 and Solomon Burke in 2002 (with the Blind Boys of Alabama providing backing vocals).

The title track “Shelter Me” is a perfect opening to the CD showcasing both Moon’s guitar, Parisien’s keyboard and both of their vocals in solo and harmony sections.

I grew up listening to R&B giants like Earth, Wind & Fire, the Commodores, Chicago (all before the days of disco and pop popularity) and, of course, the Blues Brothers who reminded us of the power of the blues and R&B. Listening to Shelter Me takes me back to those days. The only thing that could be added to make the Commissionaires’ debut CD better than it already is, is a horn section.

I’ve always said the sign of a well-produced CD is the number of times I play it. With the Commissionaires Shelter Me, I’ve lost track.


For more information about the Commissionaires and Shelter Me check

For an Arts Connection interview where Jacob Moon talks about the Commissionaires check

The Commissionaires begin...

The Commissionaires are a new soulful roots outfit formed by indie singer-songwriter Jacob Moon and Newworldson's Joel Parisien. Their debut record, entitled Shelter Me (Dec '16), is an 8-song sonic journey with themes of justice and overtones of the soul's struggle for redemption. Crafted as a remedy for these turbulent times, Shelter Me features a combination of traditional gospel numbers and new arrangements of songs written by artists like Ben Harper, Stevie Wonder and Buddy Miller.    

The idea for The Commissionaires came to Jacob Moon in the spring of 2016, when Moon and Parisien, two fiercely independent frontmen, sat down for coffee for the first time. In many ways this was a historic meeting, since their careers had run parallel for years, each his own man in full command of his direction. Over the course of a few hours, they traded stories about where they had been: Jacob having just completed a 20 year anniversary album and celebration tour, with Joel winding down with his band Newworldson.  They compared notes about their influences, their experiences and their aspirations for the future and found plentiful common ground. And it was there in the place where their endings met this new beginning that the Commissionaires was formed.

The next phase was getting together and listening to songs that might form the basis for a set of  'new Standards' in the soul gospel genre. For this they went to Solomon Burke, Aretha Franklin, The Staples Singers and took it all they way up to modern purveyors of the style such as Jonny Lang and Buddy Miller. Eventually a group of songs came together, the demos were hastily recorded and the master recording date was set for the week after their first gig together with Newworldson bassist Rich Moore and famed session drummer Lyle Molzan rounding out the quartet. There would be guests too, like slide virtuoso Joey Landreth and gospel singers Chantal Williams and Quisah Wint. In a matter of 3 or 4 sessions the songs were recorded, and the mixing and mastering was done shortly after that. A successful crowdfunding campaign (120%) was completed in early December and the CDs were delivered a week later. A vinyl issue is due out in late January, which is also the month that songwriting is set to begin on the follow up record, a set of originals which Jacob and Joel are aiming to release in the fall of 2017.  

Winter and spring will find them criss-crossing the country, playing duo and full band shows, creating exciting new video content and continuing to market the new release to radio, TV and film, while finding the audience for their music. 

For a taste of The Commissionaires in action, see the videos below from their Fall Tour. Also included is the video they made for International Justice Mission, an anti-slavery relief organization that they are partnering with on this tour.