The Soul Rebels newest release Poetry in Motion puts their brass band style in the background and shifts to a wide genre encompassing scope, touching on soul, pop, jazz, R&B and most directly hip-hop with a variety of beats and a host of MC’s (including band members). While the outfit has always loved hip-hop and supported some of the greatest (DMX, Nas) this release is their most direct focus on the genre and it succeeds because of that added sound, rhymes and production.
The first two tracks showcase this new style the best. “Blow The Horns” allows two of the Soul Rebels, trumpeter Julian Gosin and trombonist Corey “Passport P” Peyton, to flex their MC skills around thumping bass drops, skitter drums and guest Sean Carey’s singing. It is a booming track and one of the bands best ever, before they top themselves on the very next song. “Greatness” fuses together their slinky horn blasts, a mega groove, huge drums and killer verses from New Orleans MCs Dee-1 and Alfred Banks to go along with Gosin and Peyton.
The bands hometown gets yet another excellent shout out party song as “Down for My City” finds everyone showing up to help out, some are obvious (Trombone Shorty, Kermit Ruffins, DJ Jubilee, Cheeky Blakk) and some not (Emeril Lagasse), yet all contribute before a New Orleans City Wide Youth Choir chorus sing-along. Trombone Shorty pops back up to add his sound to the gorgeous instrumental “Sabor Latino” which spices in New Orleans Cuban flavors before the Caribbean and Reggae sounds filter through “It’s Up To You” featuring Kes and Kayla Jasmine.
“Good Time” keeps New Orleans the focus as Big Freedia closes out the track while “Rebellious Destroyer” is a sonic excursion that includes Branford Marsalis and spotlights a twinkling harp break from Brandee Younger. Less successful is the spiritual pairing of Matisyahu with the band for “Count Your Blessings” and the get down jam “Slide Back” with PJ Morton yet the other time the band gets sexy on record, the closing “Blush”, Robert Glasper, Tarriona “Tank” Ball and Fabriq manage to set a sultry tone.
The band is best in party mode however and a song like “Real Life” is right in their sweet spot as Carey again helps out Gosin and Peyton on vocals as the band simply pumps up the jam behind them with added bass and piano. Poetry in Motion expands the band’s sounds while managing to stay true to their roots, The Soul Rebels newest is also their strongest full-length studio release.