Souleye – Wildman
It’s easy to get the feeling that Souleye really wants to bowl over his audience with this one. His latest studio release “Wildman” features an all-star gallery of musical guests but, unlike many working in popular music, he doesn’t bring these other performers in for gimmick purposes alone. Each cameo on “Wildman” showcases a musical talent who is working in complementary style with Souleye and enhances the album’s already fine tracks. It says a lot about Souleye’s passion that despite a relatively long career in the genre, vast changes in his personal life over the years, and the ever shifting fortunes of involvement with the music world in general, he still brings the full force of his focus to bear on this eleven song collection and spares no sweat in his desire to release a monumentally impressive work that tells us about who and where Souleye is today, circa 2017.
“Dream Come True” is instantly likable, but it’s also a relatively challenging listen. There’s a lot going on here but sharp eared production makes it easy for attentive listeners to separate the various strands threading this thing together. There’s some electronic treatment put on Souleye’s voice during this song and others that follow, but it never affects listener’s enjoyment of the performance. “Classic” opens up with one approach, a steady simmer, and follows it more or less for the entirety of the performance. Chantal Kreviazuk and Chachillie’s contributions to this song are meaningful, but they also further highlight the track’s understated intensity and provide some dramatic ballast against the tone of Souleye’s own voice. “Wildman” features the guest vocal talents of Lynx and she contributes some nice passages, but the dominant qualities of this song are the often pulsating groove and Souleye’s atmospheric rap.
“Soul Expression” is another nice change of gears and really hits its mark as an effective example of soul influence in hip hop without short changing either style. Souleye’s gifts for atmospheric vocals continue to shine through and the lyrical turns are intelligent and often playful. “Follow Your Heart” has some great electronica that makes it stand out and its stirring spirit will find its mark with even the most hardened music listener. Casual fans, especially, will likely be quite taken with the song and unusual way it expresses familiar sentiments. “Fountain of Youth” has a surprisingly rockier feel than anything else on the album and it’s sure that much of the responsibility for that can be lain at the feet of its featured musician’s influence. Souleye’s brother in law and the twin of sister Alanis Morissette, Wade Morissette, brings his indie rock talents to bear on this number and it inspires one of Souleye’s best vocal performances. His sister joins Souleye for the song “Snow Angel” and the delicacy of this song belies the determination and passion lurking just below the surface of their performance. This is a worthwhile release from beginning to end and positions Souleye for the next phase of his journey in the strongest possible way.