I, as we all do, need to connect with the music I listen too. That connection can take many forms, but ultimately, the element that tends to capture me first and foremost, is the feel, that gut reaction that either gets me or it doesn’t – and my goodness did I connect to the new album Sol Empowered from Chantae Cann.
The first track ‘You Gotta Love Ya’ eased me in gently. Laid back, gentle groove. I was there. Chantae’s vocals are relaxing, gentle and with a richness that draws you in to want to hear more. Gorgeous. The brass in this track is exceptional, its placement in the mix and the subtle, but still sexy lines, came in exactly where I needed them – everything I could have wanted.
The next track ‘The Light’ opens beautifully with keys and trumpet joined by a slightly haunting vocal line. I was expecting this to go in a different direction, but was very pleasantly surprised by the Latin groove that appeared. Stunning vocal control throughout this track, with the expertise you would expect from someone with Chantae’s experience. Love the lyrics in this track which adds to the late night groove this song give us ‘if you’re looking for sunshine, you know it doesn’t always have to be daylight’. Superb instrumental outro to lead us out of the track which allows the band to show us what they can do – and they do having been given some outstanding arrangements.
Having spent some time exploring Chantae’s work, ‘The Happy Song’ demonstrates her pure joy and love for her work. Light, airy and well, ‘Happy’ as the song title suggests, which although, a word I wouldn’t normally use to describe music, is a word selected by the artist, and well, it is indeed appropriate.
I was very curious to see an interlude so soon into the album (track 4) but track 5 ‘The Love Above’ shows us why. A gritty groove appears in this instrumental track with some gorgeous short, but very much appreciated trumpet and sax interplay with some lush strings towards the end.
‘Sol Glo’ featuring Tarriona Tank Ball and the vocal layering here is stunning. Gorgeous backing vocals, where we are reminded of Chantae’s vast experience as a backing vocalist. The contrast of the energy and excitement of the lead vocal support the almost orchestral backing, and works extremely well.
Crater’ featuring PJ Morton gives us some gorgeous harmonies and PJ Morton’s vocal tone blends together beautifully with Chantae’s. A slightly haunting feel to this track lyrically referencing craters on the moon, which supports the overall feel of the song without the feeling of any emptiness or loneliness, in fact quite the opposite – warmth is apparent throughout.
‘Hey Watcha Say’ took me completely by surprise, but in a good way. Wonderful combination of elements in this track – an almost 80s feel at times with a driving beat in the verses and a wonderful catchy chorus. Loved the simple piano ending.
‘The Sound’ is a beautiful track which for me, brought together so many elements of Chantae’s whole album. Excellent production which enhanced the intimate almost childlike quality of the vocals, mixed with depth and maturity. Beautiful strings support a varied texture and the sparseness of this track at times, suited the lyrics perfectly. Fascinating almost fugal quality towards the end with vocal lines. Loved it.
‘Reason to live’ – beautiful. Skillful arrangements that bring a depth to the track. Very clever use of repetition with ‘remember’ supporting the lyrical direction of the song, remembering that although life is full of challenges, there is always a ‘Reason to live’.
Final track ‘i rise’ featuring Snarky Puppy is a motivational and energetic track to bring us to the end of this album’s journey. Chantae does indeed rise and takes us with her.
Production overall is outstanding. The arrangements and instrumentation throughout the album is skillful and without a doubt keep you hooked. Chantae’s vocal skills are immense and she has this wonderful combination of vulnerability and maturity that is rare. So very glad I have now found this artist.
Text: Fiona Ross
All songs recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Jason Andrews at Spotlight Studios
Horns arranged by: Melvin Jones
Vocals: Chantae Cann
Drums: Big Ed Clark
Bass: Brian Cockerham
Bass: Anthony Parrish* for Sol Glo
Rhodes/Keys/Organ/Piano/wurlitzer: Justin C Gilbert
Horns: ‘The Good Times Brass Band’
Trumpet/Flugelhorn/Trombone: Melvin Jones
Alto Sax: Mike Burton
Flute: Sam Skelton
Percussion: Frankie Quinones and Joey Gonzalez
Violin: Brooke Alford
Guitars: Tracyan Martin
Cello arranged and performed: Cremaine Booker
Additional vocals: Jerome Opie, Aaron Sanders and Anthony Parrish