Sargeant & Comrade Salvage the Soul EP

Sargeant & Comrade Salvage the Soul EP
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While Calgary rap duo Lexington + Whatevski may have disbanded, rapper-producer Evgeniy Bykovets (a.k.a. Whatevski) continues alongside singer Yolanda Sargeant under the witty name Sargeant & Comrade (Bykovets is Russian, hence his new moniker). Although the two have been working together for a few years, Salvage the Soul is the duo's debut, aside from three-year-old single "Love Your Body." This new project allows Bykovets the opportunity to branch out from his usual dark horrorcore production for a jazzier, quirkier sound with just a bit of a pop edge. It's some of his best work to date, but the star attraction here is really Sargeant's rich and textured vocals and her positive (but fun) message of empowerment.

There's a lot of jazz in her vocal style, although the excellent execution of the old school jazz jams "Mr. Piano Player Man" and "Love Song" that open the album might have influenced that opinion some. The duo follow with "What I Realized," flipping expectations with a reggae-lite beat, Kenny G-style sax, and some patois-heavy singing from Sargeant and guest Ouda Ouda. The remaining three songs are more hip-hop, the faster tempos providing Sargeant with more freedom to flex. These final songs also offer an opportunity for a few rap features. Comrade's heavily accented verse on "My Swag" is hilarious and Touch is his usual witty self on "Dear Afro," but Blackalicious frontman Gift of Gab provides the real star power with his contribution to closer "Secrets," (although frankly, the EP would have been just as good without him). Sargeant & Comrade have set the bar high with Salvage the Soul; hopefully the promised follow up album can match it. (Independent)