Invigorating return of Canadian soulsters who reinvent their past to seize the day and scale new heights.
For a group with a sole record under collective belt, COD have had a good run of cult following since 1976 when their self-titled LP saw the light of day, yet it’s taken the nine-piece a long time to serve up a proper second album. 1981’s “Horizons” didn’t feature most members of the original line-up, the comebacks of 1985 and 2012 didn’t solidify the ranks enough to produce previously unheard music – but now they’re here to stay. Five old guys and four recent recruits tap into tradition yet emerge as contemporary unit more than able to occupy upper reaches of charts, because there’s effervescent, no-frills sound, full of youthful energy on “Spotlight” that makes “Crack Of Dawn” – a new number and the ensemble’s manifesto – a perfect wake-up call, with funky guitar elevated by smooth slabs of brass and anchored by cosmic synthesizers, the band’s signature rhythm-and-blues mix.
As Michael Dunston’s supple vocals lead the group toward the jive of “Somebody’s Watching” where call-and-response is a display of their current telepathy, emotional tension begins to grow, Carl Harvey’s six-string spurts marking its bounds, before flute-fueled sensual electronics bring a fresh take on “Boobie Ruby” – one of a few revised cuts on offer – to the dancefloor. Still, the nonet’s infectious soulfulness runs deeper on the spiritual, translucent “It’s Alright” and “Keep The Faith” – the songs which stress their persistence and spread hope – while the reggae-tinged title track unfolds into a slow-burning delight for Alvin Jones’ sax, Trevor Daley’s trombone and Alexis Baro’s trumpet to burnish.
The mid-tempo “Your Love” may project retro onto the record’s canvas, and “Ol’ Skool” may look at the band’s olden days – when their genre’s giants, namechecked in the latter piece, roamed the Earth – yet, nostalgia aside, the group’s golden period is here and now. So if the honeyed “Seasons Change” gives the nod to the veterans’ acceptance of time passage, “Changes” would challenge many a young artist to match this collective for the ability to deliver a life-affirming message. It was worth the wait to finally get it.
Read the interview with Alvin Jones about the group’s past, present and future.