Canadian singer Tanika Charles might have started out wanting to be an actress/comedian but thankfully she ended up finding her voice by singing back up vocals and has now evolved into an artist in her own right. Her music is sometimes billed as ‘classic soul’ but she admits some of the songs on her debut Soul Run started with hip hop style beats before being recreated with more traditional instrumentation. This blend of modern and vintage styles really makes this colourful album fly.
The title track Soul Run is a breakup song with the kind of upbeat mood that proves leaving someone can sometimes be the sweetest escape. Break ups can give you the freedom to find something and someone better, a fact she celebrates on Two Steps. These songs might have come from a bad place but she’s channeled her problems into music that is celebratory and also just catchy as hell.
When Tanika sings ‘I’m so fly, I got soul’ it could seem cliche but it’s just undeniable. She’s got confidence in her voice and her talent, and one listen to this album proves her belief. The lyrics have such personality, especially songs like More than a Man and Money. Endless Chain is a proper throwback song with great back up singers and Tankia’s voice flows and floats breezily over the melody. She just breathes joy into everything she sings. Waiting continues this feeling with a sense of optimism and possibility conveyed in every note.
The final song, Darkness and the Dawn is somewhat more experimental in style and suggests that she is not going to be placed easily into a ‘vintage’ category just because her music has these influences. And this song just sums up the themes of this album perfectly – only by experiencing darkness can we truly appreciate the light.
Soul Run is a great debut album from an artist who has really found her style and her sound. Spend some time with this record and you’ll feel like dancing with her down whatever road she wants to go.