Souleye – Wildman
The eleven song collection on Souleye’s latest release, ‘Wildman,’ mark a new peak in the career of this iconoclastic writer and hip hop performer. Souleye, more than ever before, is expressing the ideas and thoughts that drive his spirit in clear, accessible language that engages the listener’s intellect while provoking them physically and keep their attention with solid melodies. That’s another part of Souleye’s music that sets him apart – so often, if you bother to deconstruct his vocal performances and musical arrangements, you’ll often find melodies underpinning a significant portion of what he does. He has an obvious wont for impressively produced walls of sound, but he never lays things too thick and the sonic power he harnesses retains a surprisingly light hand. Wildman brings a lot of elements to the table, but the central strength of these songs time after time is Souleye’s writing and his performance.
“Dream Come True” has some rough hewn touches spread out across its chaotic surface, but the song retains real coherence throughout. The rough hewn qualities extend to Souleye’s vocal and it’s thanks to an electronic treatment that’s used sparingly, but effectively. The rhythm section on each of the album’s eleven songs is largely electronic and, in some cases, the result of creative sampling that drops into a chosen track and transforms it totally. It’s an universally strong element across the whole of the album and has genuine warmth rather than any sort of cold, robotic quality. “Classic” is the first of the songs on ‘Wildman’ to features contributions from a guest artist and, in this case, it’s a twosome that further underscores the song’s inherent strengths in vocalists Chantal Kreviazuk and Chachillie. Souleye doesn’t take any sort of partnership on the title song and it’s one of the more memorable moments on ‘Wildman.’ The strong groove characterizing the tune has a tight focus and never meanders.
“Follow Your Heart” is a memorably melodic pop tune, certainly the closest that Souleye comes to something outright commercial on this release, and the synthesizer lines are particularly impactful. He’s reaching for something of the same quality on the track “Miles Away”, but his approach is a little more patient and not as committed to right, unsparing song construction. Souleye turns in a stirring performance on this song though and it ranks among the album’s best. He revisits the groove oriented focus heard on the title song and “Classic” with the track “You’re an Angel” to supreme effect. The introduction is an interesting musical interlude and recalls some of the unusual textures present in the next track “Fountain of Youth”. This penultimate collaboration on Wildman features the talents of Wade Morissette and the brother of Souleye’s spouse Alanis Morissette makes a case that he’s every bit as interesting of a contributor as any others on ‘Wildman.’ “Pain Body” is another song, hip hop in origin, that’s nonetheless quite different from anything else on ‘Wildman’ and reminds us of Souleye’s commitment to keeping his audience prepared for the unexpected. One of the album’s most important songs is buried near the end. “Snow Angel” is the first collaboration between Souleye and his wife Alanis Morissette. She doesn’t play an equal vocal role in the performance, but her contributions strike the most notable contrast between Souleye and a second vocalist we hear on ‘Wildman.’ There’s immense variety on this offering and it shows how Souleye’s creative has an inexhaustible supply of inspiration.