Published Sep 10, 2019If there were ever a band that continue to live up to the mantra of "one nation under a groove," it would be the Souljazz Orchestra. Every record is always a treat, with their unique musical mixtures constantly commanding your attention. On their newest effort, Chaos Theories, the gears shift, as Pierre Chrètien's very pointed and precise songwriting dominates the subject matter. This is very much a political album, no doubt, but in true Souljazz fashion, it serves as a bustling backdrop for some of the finest performances of their career.
"Charlie Foxtrot" piles on solo after wild solo to properly acclimate you to the (pun intended) chaotic nature. It doesn't take long for the sharp barbs of "Police the Police" to plant themselves; a reggae-tinged but clearly pointed jab at Ottawa's law enforcement following a brutal personal tragedy, planting its message in a simple but direct chorus.
"Boat Rockers" is a call for change wrapped tightly in time changes and sax freak-outs. The imminent dangers of nuclear warfare play out in "War Games," a sister song to "House of Cards," given how much focus is given to the U.S.'s role in both. The production and arrangements throw in disco and new wave influences too, making for a much catchier and tighter set of songs than I've heard from this group over the years.
As the off-kilter and wistful closer "Well Runs Dry" weaves its narrative of bemoaning the frenetic pace of modern-day living, it's very clear that Souljazz have hit a new creative high. Instead of going the nihilist route and making a collection of songs to throw on while watching the world burn, Pierre and company continue to push forward. Times may be troubled, but with Chaos Theories, the light at the end of the tunnel is a bit brighter, and a whole lot louder. (Strut/Do Right! Music)