The Soul Motivators are a new age Canadian Funk combo built around Marc Shapiro (bass), Voltaire Ramos (guitar), James Robinson (keys), Doug Melville (drums), and Nigel Pitt (percussion). When their sound demands a vocal they call on Lydia Persaud and to beef up the funk quotient they use a three piece horn section – Nathan Dell-Vandenberg (trombone), Tom Moffett (trumpet) and Dominique Morier (tenor sax). Together as the Soul Motivators they’ve played live in and around Toronto for a couple of years and now they feel the time is right for their debut album – ‘Free To Believe’ and on the 10 tracker they’ve managed to capture a raw, organic feel of a live show. In many ways the soundscape of the album is similar to the sound you’d associate with labels like Dap-Tone… “authentically vintage!”
Hear that roughness from the start as the LP’s title tune opens proceedings. It’s a funky, bumpy ride with a New Orleans flavoured horn solo in the middle. My only reservation comes with the vocal. Ms Persuad holds the tune but sounds way too sweet for what the occasion demands. She’s no Marva Whitney! Lydia sounds more comfortable on the mellower tunes like ‘La Garonne’ and she’s just as comfortable on the Northern flavoured items (notably ‘Love Thing’) which don’t demand quite the same levels of aggression as the funk items. She’s at her best on the ponderous ballad that is ‘Still Waiting’ where she comes over as a convincing little girl lost.
Vocals aside, the LP boasts a number of instrumentals where the band gets to really stretch out. On stuff like ‘Street Level’ and ‘Working It Out’ they concoct a unique cocktail – sort of Average White Band meets Blaxploitation with a few rough edges thrown in to add extra toughness!
The Soul Motivators’ ‘Free To Believe’ will be available from the 18th September.