"If you kick a dog long enough, the dog bites back."
That phrase is the central theme to Ottawa's Souljazz Orchestra's rise of the proletariat-charged seventh album. Resistance carefully mixes the Afro-beat rhythms we've come to expect with big band horn ensembles, tinges of zouk and more. Aesthetically cleaner than 2012's eight-tracked Solidarity recording, Resistance is a modern tribute to music that is by no means retro, no matter how long it's been around.
Far too driven for laurel-resting, Souljazz incorporate two key elements to distinguish Resistance from their earlier work. The first is a heavy lean on Caribbean and African francophone genres that allow for a natural evolution of the band's core sound. The second is that, rather than relying on grooves and sporadic responses, the tracks on Resistance all incorporate a strong lead position, with various members rotating to fill that up front spot.
That shared responsibility has led to great results, with the variety of voices suiting the wide range of music. Ray Murray brings an intensity to his performance that is well paired with the frantic rhythm of "Shock and Awe," and percussionist Marielle Rivard especially shines in the lead role on "As The World Turns" and brass-heavy party tune "Soleil Couchant."
The album concludes with "It's Gonna Rain," and a bubbling bass soul melody that conjures not-too-distant memories of early Mayer Hawthorne records. And while it's somewhat odd to conclude the record with rain, that precipitation is meant to wash away any troubles you otherwise haven't been able to shed, and it's a gentle way to conclude this wild ten-song ride.
Resistance is evidence not only of the Souljazz Orchestra's abilities, but also of their audacity. (Strut/Do Right! Music)