12 tracks / 53:20
Cécile Doo-Kingué has got a lot going in her favor: she has a unique voice and killer guitar chops, a tremendous sense of musical history and social conscience, and mad songwriting skills. Making her own way in the world, she moved from the Big Apple to the City of Lights before choosing to ply her trade in Montreal, Canada. Her latest album, Anybody Listening Part 2: Dialogues, isthe most compelling disc to make its way across my desk this year, and it has to be heard to be believed.
This record is a continuation of last year’s Anybody Listening Part 1: Monologues, which was a solo acoustic project. As you will hear, Dialogues was cut with a full band, and there are plans for a part 3, Communion, which will be a live album. Part 2 includes a dozen tracks, all of which were written by Cecilé, with the exception of one Hendrix cover. Five of these songs appeared on Monologues and have been rearranged, which provides a cool bit of continuity. Ms. Doo-Kingué handled the vocals (as well as a great deal of the guitar, bass, and percussion), and she was joined by a baker’s dozen of musicians in the studio.
The album gets a strong start with some raunchy slide guitar and distorted vocals on “Riot and Revolution,” a song of social unease. The backline of Fredy V. on bass and Anthony Pageot sets up a driving beat, and the backing vocals from Malika Tirolean and Fredy on the chorus are infectious. CDK’s guitar work is very tight, and her inclusion of Reveille in the middle of her solo break indicates that maybe it is time for mankind to wake up and start doing something.
After the opener, Doo-Kingué takes another shot at four of the tracks from Part 1, and they all take on a different character when being converted from an acoustic format to an electrified band sound. It is neat that these songs have subjects that cover a wide range of situations that we encounter in one way or another in our lives. “Sweet Talkin’ Devil” is a thumping southern rocker that describes carnal longing and temptation. This is a cool contrast from the social disconnection that is run down in the jazzy “Anybody Listening,” which features bass from Cedric Dind-Lavoie and guitar from Daniel Joseph, as well as backing vocals from Nadia Bashalani and Wayne Tennant. Then there is the dichotomy of the humorous lyrics and funky blues-rock of “Little Bit” and the heavy message of “Six Letters” which examines the dysfunction that led to the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner.
These songs are very good, but the new material for Dialogues is also rock solid. The standout track of these is “Sunshine Lady” which has a lot going on in the guitar department. Doo-Kingué has a fine acoustic touch, and adds tasteful electric riffs as needed as well as a sweet solo towards the end to counter Tirolean’s backing vocal calisthenics. Cécile’s voice also shows a lot of character here, moving from a smooth tenor to falsetto with ease.
Cécile saved the lone cover for last, and it is a neat re-do of Jimi Hendrix’s 1967 classic, “Manic Depression.” Her arrangement is uptempo and includes some elements of the original, most notably the jazz style drumming and the doubled guitar and bass lines. But the vocal style and melody are cool departures from the original, turning a heavy rocker into a funkfest.
Anybody Listening Part 2: Dialogues is a bold project, and Cécile Doo-Kingué pulled it off well. Though it has varied musical styles and subject matter, this album works well as a whole and every track is intriguing. It will be interesting to see how the material from this disc and Part 1 will be interpreted on the stage for Part 3. In the meantime, Cécile has a very busy summer, with shows and festivals scheduled all over Canada – so see her website for details!