Published Jan 24, 2020Toronto deep-funk messengers the Soul Motivators deepen their groove and expand both their sonic palette and social consciousness on their sophomore full-length, Do the Damn Thing. The interim five years between their debut Free To Believe saw vocalist Shahi Teruko (a replacement for Lydia Persaud and who makes her striking vocal debut here), James Robinson on keys, Marc Shapiro on bass, Voltaire Ramos on guitar, with Doug Melville and Derek Thorne on percussion refine their love of Meters and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings-inspired soul and funk.
Those familiar with the Motivators' infectious throwbacks will definitely get their groove on to the title track — where Teruko's soulfully unfettered vocals make its command irresistible — and the deep fatback strut of "Say What You Mean" and "Drag and Drop," where the group's interplay feels as vibrant as ever.
But it's detours like the car chase fever dream of the aptly titled "Savalas" which seamlessly blends MFSB sophistication with the urgency of classic '70s blaxploitation and cop shows, not to mention Blood Sweat & Tears, where the Soul Motivators at their most cinematic and ambitious. "Modern Superwoman" is a poignant paean to single motherhood with sublime arrangement and an emphatic vocal from Teruko.
Do the Damn Thing closes with "Black Rhino," a moody, instrumental, horn-driven charge both cerebral and body-rocking, suggesting that the Soul Motivators' sonic path is just taking flight. (Do Right!)