Chantae Cann - Sol Empowered (2018)

Chantae Cann
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Chantae Cann - Sol Empowered

Most of the time that I spent listening to Chantae Cann’s latest project, Sol Empowered,  found me trying to find the right way to describe her vocals. That took a while, but Cann’s melodic, airy yet precise enunciation is reminiscent – in many respects – of a lullaby.

Cann possesses a sweet alto and her vocals come out in a whispery coo that sounds so close and intimate that it seems that she is singing to you and you alone. It’s relaxing and soothing and you can do far worse than to have Cann and P.J Morton duet on “Craters,” a tune about a love that is both natural and necessary, in your ear as you prepare to sleep or for an evening of romance.

Chantae Cann - Sol Empowered

Most of the time that I spent listening to Chantae Cann’s latest project, Sol Empowered,  found me trying to find the right way to describe her vocals. That took a while, but Cann’s melodic, airy yet precise enunciation is reminiscent – in many respects – of a lullaby.

Cann possesses a sweet alto and her vocals come out in a whispery coo that sounds so close and intimate that it seems that she is singing to you and you alone. It’s relaxing and soothing and you can do far worse than to have Cann and P.J Morton duet on “Craters,” a tune about a love that is both natural and necessary, in your ear as you prepare to sleep or for an evening of romance.

Cann’s strength as a vocalist is to get her listeners to lean in to hear what she has to say. That, however, is only a virtue if you, well, have something to say, and what Cann offers on Sol Empowered is a dozen tracks geared toward empowering listeners to find their inner light, or – in the case of the song “The Sound,” to shed light on societal ills in hopes that people will use their collective voices to address them.

With all that being said, Sol Empowered’s strongest track is “iRise,” an ode to overcoming traps set by haters; it is also the album’s most assertive and self-consciously athematic cut. The coo and whisper heard on other tracks becomes a defiant growl as Cann matches the musical arrangement laid down by Snarky Puppy that moves from rock and jazz possessing a Mediterranean flavor.

“iRise” serves as the ideal bookend partner when paired with Sol Empowered’s opening track, “U Gotta Love Ya.”  That tune is percussive mid-tempo funk featuring punchy horns balanced against a keyboard led shuffle beat. Whereas “iRise” is a raised fist of defiance, “U Gotta Love Ya” is reminder that taking on the world is a process that begins by taking care of yourself. “Go for gold/and enjoy yourself / and to your heart be true / and as you progress / darling don’t forget, you gotta take some time for you.”

Prior to the release of her 2016 album Journey to Golden, most listeners heard Cann when she worked as a backing vocalist, or made guest cameos on projects by other artists. While her distinct vocal style is recognizable to many indie soul fans, the growth that Cann made between Journey to Golden and Sol Empowered in the range of tempos and musical styles, as well continued lyrical development. She continues to be an artist whose progress is fun and fascinating to watch. Solidly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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