12 songs – 48 minutes
Soulstack follows up on their successful debut album, Big Red, with this original blend of blues, soul and roots.
Hailing from Kitchener, Ontario, about 100 miles west of Niagara Falls, they’re led by singer/guitarist Jonathan Knight, who produced the disc and wrote 11 of the 12 songs with partner/keyboardist Mark Wessinger. Adding to the mix are 2010 Maple Leaf Awards Drummer Of The Year Tom Bona, bassists Harpo Peterson and Josh Knight as well as new addition Chris Latta, a six-string powerhouse who doubles on baritone and standard guitars.
They lay down smooth, clean grooves as they present material that’s hard to pin down, but possesses hints of the bluesier sides of Little Feat, The Band and Bob Dylan. Along with Knight’s crisp vocals, Wessinger’s work on the 88s is stellar throughout.
A soft keyboard riff kicks off “Long Way Down,” with the full band climbing on board, driven forward with a rapid-fire answering riff on guitar over a fast-paced, triplet-driven rhythm pattern. The gentle message is that we all have problems – deal with them. For “Not The Only One,” the theme changes to attempts to woo a lady who has many admirers. “Want You To Stay” is a strong blues in which the singer takes all the blame in a troubled relationship.
The message continues with “Fold Up Your Heart,” targeting someone who chooses loneliness over the pain of a broken relationship. The production slows down for the funky “Warm Bed To Sleep On.” It’s a love song about a guy who simply needs a little company to take away the sting of being down on his luck. That tune eases into the equally mellow “Friend,” which sings the praise of having a buddy to call when things get bad.
The pace quickens once more for a gathering of friends who are “Hanging In The Kitchen” and having a good time until dawn. “Have Mercy” is a lament for a hard-working man delivered with a Latin beat, while “All A Man Can Do” sings about a woman who can’t be true, which leads directly a song in which the vocalist is born for love only to hook up with a gal “Born To Make Me Cry.” The band rocks out on “Living Room” before a live version of the Staples Singers’ 1955 hit, “This May Be The Last Time.”
Soulstack delivers a paler shade of blue in this well-conceived work, which is available through iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon. It’s an album that will grow on you a little more with each new song. Give it a spin.