Rebelution Music Group [Release date 25.10.19]
From the opening of notes of ‘Blow the Horns’ The Soul Rebels exude swagger and confidence, promising to “shake the world up like an earthquake”. ‘Poetry in Motion’ marks the first release in seven years for the New Orleans brass ensemble and finds them fusing jazzy horn lines with Hip-Hop verses and beats.
As is appropriate for a Hip-Hop record, the opening trilogy of tracks serves as a manifesto – outlining where the group is from (“from a city where the music is sacred”) and lofty statements about their musical prowess (“we about to take it to another level now”).
Fortunately The Soul Rebels live up to their boasts, with production that juxtaposes Timbaland-style drum programming against organic brass. ‘Down For My City’ is a touching yet fun tribute to the Big Easy, with famous local musicians such as Kermit Ruffins and Trombone Shorty popping in for cameos. There is also a children’s choir on the chorus, a cutesy touch which shouldn’t work, yet somehow endears the song further.
Strikingly for a group of musicians this talented, The Soul Rebels are quite content to let others play in their sandbox and the album features an enviable roster of excellently curated guest stars. Maroon 5 keyboardist, PJ Morton joins the group on sexy R&B number, ‘Slide Back’, providing silky vocals and sultry Rhodes playing. Similarly ‘Good Time’ is a party song that features guest vocals from Big Freedia and Denisa.
‘Respected Destroyer’ is a back to basics number, in that it is an instrumental from the core band – albeit with an appearance from the legendary Branford Marsalis! Jamison Ross’ drumming pulls everything together, as different musicians step up to the plate to riff. Brandee Younger’s harp adds a dreamy quality, while the repetitive horn lines create trippy imagery. An important track that shows The Soul Rebels don’t need the bells and whistles.
The closing sequence ‘Blush (Poetry in Motion)’ features production from legendary producer Robert Glasper, who has worked with everyone from Kendrick Lamar to Joni Mitchell. Warm horn lines interweave with old school Rhodes keyboard and stacked vocal harmonies to seductive perfection. ‘Poetry In Motion’ is just that, an album by skilled musicians that are so damn good at doing what they do. ****
Review by Phillip Beamon
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