Album Review: Soulfege, “Take Back the Mic”
In March I posted a political diatribe , in which I mentioned Derrick Ashong speaking about Barack Obama. Turns out Derrick is in a group called Soulfege and they gave me a copy of their latest album to review.
I’m unpredictable about how I feel with music (as with just about everything else in my life).Â I’ll get in phases where it has to be on, then ones where I want things silent. Ones where I listen on repeat, and ones where I can’t make it through one track without skipping. And my taste is all over the map. Britpop and rap and hip-hop and dance are often there, with goofy teenage pop and some pop-country sprinkled in. But I’ve got everything from classical to heavy metal to drum ‘n bass. Eclectic. (Schizophrenic.)
Anyway, I’m excited to hear this album, because I like what Soulfege is about and what I’ve seen so far. So let’s liveblog the album, shall we? I’m working while I do it, but I think that’s realistic. I’m not one to lay on the floor with my eyes shut and absorb every word.
The first track, Damoshi, has a growly bassline. I am easy for a growly bassline. So, yeah. I’m in.
Second track, "Do Right", has nothing at all to do with the first one. It’s really great funky 70s porn guitar. Is this going to be an all-over-the-map kind of album? Because if so, we’re gonna get along just fine.
Three, "Johnny’s Song." A female on lead vocals, starting out sing-songy, a bit of funk guitar at the bridge, getting over to spoken word as it ends. It IS one of those albums, and I’m loving it. That’s a hard strategy, to be all over the place, but this is totally working. The vocals are fantastic and smooth and somehow it’s all got a vibe that’s both throwback and fresh. This track is a little too-many-things-in-one – and seems long, and that’s probably why – but I’m still liking the whole package.
Four, "To Be Free." Oooh, reggae. In a toes-in-the-sand-meets-church-sing-a-long kind of way. I admit my reggae ouvre begins and ends with Bob Marley, but for what it’s worth, I like this.
Five, "Just Be Me." Female again, and she has a pretty voice, although not as thick and warm as the two guys. Sweet song, with almost a Dave Matthews-y guitar going on.
Six, "Funkadocious." I was a bit eh until the lyrics kicked in, and then I got into it. Cute.
Seven, "Once." It sounds like they tried to body up her voice with too much echo and also a bit too much electronic drum kit, but God, is this a pretty song. It would be stunning sung a cappella.
Eight, "Beans ‘n Rice." Hmm. Unfair advantage, naming a song after one of my favorite foods. Second unfair advantage, putting in a bassline that’s almost Knight Rider-y. This isn’t a song for the ages or anything, but it’s fun as hell and I love it.
Nine, "Sweet Mother 3Mix." I feel like I’m listening to a Disney soundtrack. For the first African Disney Princess cartoon. In passing, why isn’t there an African Disney Princess yet? Anyway, I don’t know the original song, so maybe that’s why I’m not really clicking on this track.
Ten, "From the Soul." Low-pitched and more like an interlude on a rap album than anything else. It’s got a bit of a prowl to it. I like it.
Eleven, "Fight On." It’s quiet and not terribly complex, but the melody grows on you and the lyrics do, too. Again, Kelley’s voice seems over-echoed to me. It’s not hugely powerful, but it’s pretty.
So that’s the album – and all told, I love it. It’s going to get the crap played out of it, and I am guessing that I’ll like it even more the more I hear it. It’s definitely worth picking up .
(Incidentally, I also love that they’ve done a "Song Stories " section. What a cool way to get listeners paying attention to each song. I wanted my own impressions while writing this, but I can’t wait to read them now.)
They’re playing for the album release Sept. 5 at the Knitting Factory.Â Funnily enough, I was just invited to a Schocholautte show at Fontana’s earlier that same night. (Good band, most Google-unfriendly band name ever.) I think I might just make a night of it. Who’s up for it?