Just like the audience during their concerts, the Souljazz Orchestra can't stand still. The Ottawa-based Afrobeat collective's sound has flourished over their previous seven releases, and their progress continues on Under Burning Skies, which adds drum machines and vintage 1980s synthesizers to make this their most refined and infectious record to date.
"Dog Eat Dog" opens the album with the declaration, "Dogs working for the system get fucked by the system," and while the group's lyrics remain as politically charged as ever, the rhythm is pure seduction, fusing the drive of Africa 70 with the polish of an early 1980s Leon Sylvers III production. That vibe's sustained with the drum machine-powered, soul sonic-flavoured "Lufunki" and the spry snapshot of working class resilience "Adawe Boogie."
Souljazz Orchestra remain superb instrumentalists, fine-tuning the excursions into French Caribbean styles begun on 2015's Resistance with "Oublier Pour Un Jour" and "Is Yeelyel" (the latter is a potent cover of the Dur-Dur band's classic). After 15 years, and in increasingly troubled times, the Souljazz Orchestra are as joyous, vibrant and timely as ever. (Strut/Do Right! Music)