Susan Omand listens to the latest music from a Canadian rock band that won't be a well kept secret for very long...
There are only three (non classical) female singing voices that I actively enjoy listening to. Salem Jones from One Soul Thrust is one of them (the other two being Annie Lennox and Chrissie Hynde in case you’re interested). The rest I find lack projection and richness, missing character and clarity in melodic songs and going screechy when they actually try for power. Salem has both vocal power and range and a rich, characterful clarity so I was overjoyed when I heard that a new One Soul Thrust album was coming out....
Hold on. Who? What do you mean you’ve never heard of them?! OK, not many have on this side of the water as they are “one of Canada’s best kept secrets”. I discovered them thanks to Twitter several years ago, around the time of their second album release, and have been following their progress ever since. One Soul Thrust describe themselves as a “purist original rock band” who write their own songs. Their sound is, well, incredible. It’s classic rock with a 21st century twist, fresh and original but at the same time comfortably familiar. It IS pure but without being clinical, powerful without ever losing its soul. It’s everything I need from a rock band. And I really get the feeling that they’re everything they need from a rock band too as they are obviously very comfortable together, sounding tight and professional as a unit, with everyone getting a chance to shine. As well as Salem’s soaring vocals and rhythm guitar, there’s Jag Mollerup on lead guitar and backing vocals, Anna Portalupi on bass and Todd Pretty’s “pounding hypno-grooves”... or drums to everyone else.
So what of the new album? Hold the Vision is actually the first part of a two part release, Hold the Vision, Trust the Process, with the second part due out in October. Therefore, this isn’t really a full album on its own as such, being only 6 tracks, but it works very well as a standalone EP release. However I am also very excited to see if a new perspective on these tracks will be revealed when it stands alongside the second part come the autumn. Before I get into the track by track though I really must mention three things to save me repeating them for every track. Firstly, the writing is always lyrically strong and always with a message. Secondly, as I said above, the music is fresh but familiar feeling. This is a really great thing though as the hooks are immediate and nothing jars. It’s the album you feel like you’ve had in your rock collection for years, listened to regularly and keep going back to when you need a lift. Thirdly, I must mention the production. Often these days, bands will sound so over-produced on albums that you feel the live experience must be completely different. The sound engineering and production on this album is second to none, capturing the heart and soul of the band and their music without compromising on sound quality and polish. Bravo!
Going track by track on Hold the Vision
Yeah, yeah, yeah! Salem’s voice is the first thing you hear before the band kicks in for a thumper indeed of a first track. I can’t decide if the spoken verses remind me more of Falco’s Rock Me Amadeus or the Rocky Horror Show’s Sweet Transvestite but in either case it is great glam fun with a heavy backline punctuating Salem’s powerful singing.
2 Perfect Scream
I believe this may be the next single from the album as the band, according to their Twitter feed anyway, are out shooting the video for it today! Jag’s unique guitar sound takes centre stage for the opening to this one before Salem’s vocals kick in and the really hooky guitar riff carries throughout. You can’t help but move to this one.
3 Naked Arms of Love
This is pure 80’s rock. There is no other way to describe it. The driving beat and soaring vocals. The stunning guitar solo. Even the feedback noise at the end that fades to silence before the gig crowd in your head goes wild (or is that just me). It’s so, so eighties. And it’s utterly wonderful.
4 Good Day
This is a good good day. And this is a good good song to sing along to with an incredibly catchy chorus. And that transposition and change in pace near the end song as the beat drops... I’m afraid there’s only one word for it. Sexy.
5 Chambers of Truth
This is the first single off the album and, if I’m honest, for me it’s the weakest song on here. It’s not bad by any means, of course not, it just has to compete with some absolute belters. Maybe it’s because it’s more ballady than the others and I don’t really get with the slushy stuff. It certainly showcases the clarity, range and beauty of Salem’s voice and the virtuosity of Jag’s guitar playing. Just not my favourite having heard the rest of the album.
Oh my god, Todd’s drumming. Stunning. Poor guy must always be shattered after this one. What a great track to end the album and leave the door open for part 2.
So, yeah. If this new album from One Soul Thrust is the vision I, for one, am definitely holding it. I suggest you do too.