CHANTAE CANN: ‘Sol Empowered’ (Atlanta Records)

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  • CHANTAE CANN: ‘Sol Empowered’ (Atlanta Records)

                         Based in Atlanta but raised in Chicago, angelic-voiced Chantae Cann first came on the radar of soul music enthusiasts via her session work on albums by Maysa, India.Arie, Avery *Sunshine and Snarky Puppy. But she had too good a voice to stay in the background and it was no surprise that she stepped into the spotlight to forge a career a solo artist. After a memorable 2015 update of Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway’s immortal dance floor duet, ‘Back Together Again,’ with the UK’s own Tony Momrelle, she went and cut her debut album, ‘Journey To Golden,’ which topped iTunes’ jazz chart. Now she’s back with this, her superb second LP, and with any luck, it should consolidate the success she reaped with her debut.

There’s a deliciously laidback ’70s jazzy soul vibe on ‘Sol Empowered.’ Its sound, seductive and alluring, features lashings of blissfully-chilled-out Rhodes and Wurlitzer piano a la Roy Ayers as well as some piquant yet subtle Latin seasoning. Floating above this lightly funkafied  backdrop is Chan’s lithe, honey-drizzled voice, which is light and airy but also imbued with a deep soulfulness. Impressively, she writes most of the songs herself though employs the services of  Justin Timberlake associate, Justin C. Gilbert, to helm the majority of the record.

Standouts are abundant, and include the shimmering ‘Happy Song,’ the sunshine-drenched ‘The Light’ and a gently bubbling opener, ‘U Gotta Love Ya.’ Ear-catching, too, is ‘Craters,’ a slow, simmering but ultimately uplifting duet with Maroon 5’s PJ Morton (its key hook line is “we belong together like craters on the moon,” sounds absurd, perhaps, but it actually works within the emotional context of the song). Listen out also for a perky slice of driving pop-soul with an infectious chorus called ‘Hey Watcha Say’ and ‘I Rise’ where Chan joins forces with Snarky Puppy on a sizzling, brassy Latin-esque groove. 

All in all, then, this is an impressive sophomore outing from the Windy City chanteuse whose warm vocals are a beacon of refulgent light and energy.  

(CW) 4/5