Soraia - ‘Dead Reckoning’ (Wicked Cool Records) Print
CD Reviews
Written by Gerald Stansbury   
Thursday, 07 December 2017 04:20

Soraia artworkI thought I was pretty clever and starting to organize my top albums of the year when Soraia unexpectedly crossed my path. A driving gaffe found me driving a rental car with Sirius Radio, instead of my car with its steady CD player. One day on my way home from work I heard Soraia’s ‘Why’ playing on Little Steven’s Underground Garage and felt that rush that used to come with hearing an exciting new song on the radio or on MTV. I was singing along (badly and out of tune) before the song had ended and made a note to learn more about this album as soon as possible. An iTunes purchase that night revealed an album of the year candidate that has me telling others that the whole album is magic.

 

Opening song ‘Quicksand’ has proven to be a little bit of a grower as it has gone from a song I liked to a song that I love hearing. The band exhibits several of its strengths from the powerful vocals of ZouZou Mansour to the dynamic guitarwork of Mike Reisman. Brianna Sig (drums) and Travis Smith (bass) lead the song like a well oiled machine with each getting moments to display their playing within the context of the song. The band shifts into ‘Why’ which is the song I had heard on the radio. This Little Steven penned song had to have really been written in some magical place as it is as perfect as a song can be. The guitars cascade in quietly during the verses and pick up as Mansour shifts from a reserved vocal into a powerful pre-chorus and a behemoth of a chorus. Smith and Sig propel this garage rock classic harder and harder while Reisman paints a canvas with his guitar. This song has significant crossover appeal and will hopefully get a chance to be heard by a lot more people.

 

 

After such a musical high, expectations would be for a drop, but it doesn’t happen as the band transitions into the straight ahead rocker ‘Cupid Killer.’ One of the great things I have found with this album is that every member’s input is awesome and vital to the songs. Each song has me wanting to highlight every member in some capacity. Smith’s cool bass line introduces ‘Beautiful Curse’ before some sharp guitar by Reisman and the drums of Sig fall into place. Mansour is in complete control of the vocals with an ability to go from delicate to dominant and full of attitude in the blink of an eye. ‘Wow’ lives up to its name with a great use of dynamics with each member again shining within its brief 4 minutes. The first half of the album comes to a close with ‘Come Down, Angel.’ The guitar work by Reisman is quiet and perfect through the verse leading into a huge chorus that allows Mansour to seize control. The drum fills by Sig really standout and add more muscle throughout the song. This song blends elements of classic rock with modern rock seamlessly.

 

‘Monster’ kickstarts the second half of the album with an awesome riff and vocals that would make the likes of Pat Benetar proud. This chorus embeds itself inside the brain and leads right into the next rocker ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi.’ Quite simply, the band is on fire. There is a quiet breakdown that transitions into an excellent guitar solo before Mansour, Sig, and Smith all let loose to close the song with an epic exclamation point. ‘Have Love Will Travel’ strikes the same garage rock itch for me that the Love Me Nots did with this one being right at home on either of the first two records by the Love Me Nots. It has a hard groove that gets the body moving and has been one of my favorites from the album since my first listen. Soraia has a unique tendency to introduce the chorus at the beginning of the song before bringing in the first verse and not overkill the chorus throughout the song. The hook still hits as strong as the first time.

 

‘Tahiti’ starts with a hypnotic riff, a great vocal, and some extremely well placed keyboards with the song building in power through the chorus before switching back to the original riff by itself. The second verse though packs a little more power with the band showcasing a diversity that many bands can never achieve. This music is simply timeless on this album. ‘Wandering Star’ sounds like a 50’s or 60’s ballad infused with a hard edge with Mansour providing a dreamy vocal through the chorus. Perhaps as a comparison, it would not be too far off to imagine ‘Earth Angel’ performed and written by a band with an attitude who likes their music hard and loud. The album comes to a close with slinky rocker ‘Black Mood.’ I really cannot say enough for the interplay between the musicians on this album. Sig and Smith are faultless as a rhythm section and carry each song with Reisman shining on the guitar. This song provides a perfect example with the solos by Reisman riding the wave of the rhythm, and Mansour providing a powerful vocal with hook after hook. The lyrics are unique throughout the album and really complement each song.

 

The worst thing that happens with this album is that it ends after ‘Black Mood,’ which requires starting it all over again. This album is faultless to my ears and soul and has possibly become my favorite album of the year. More than that though, this is an album that I envision playing for the next 20 or 30 years on a regular basis. I now have a brief back catalog by the band to explore and my early digging shows me that this is a band I should have discovered long ago. Don’t wait any longer, seek out this album and experience the beautiful magic they have created.

 

‘Dead Reckoning’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.

 

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