You could say Tanika Charles’ Soul Run was born out of a relationship break-up, but her personal journey leading up to this debut album would more accurately be called a life shake-up. No matter how you categorize it, Soul Run bounces back from heartache and the blues with infinite resiliency and a determined spirit.
Leaving an imminent marriage and life on an Alberta farm behind, Charles moved to Toronto to sing, working with the likes of Bedouin Soundclash and Zaki Ibrahim, and releasing an EP titled What!What?What!? In 2010. Though the gestation between that initial EP and this LP has been long, the wait has been worth it. Soul Run sprints through classic R&B, soul, and Motown sounds, picking up modern hip-hop samples and breaks, hints of jazz and 60s psychedelia along the way. The throughline is Charles’ piercing, undeniably powerful voice. Whether she’s singing about shopping sprees (“Money”) or reaching emotional and physical breaking points (“Heavy”), Charles holds nothing back. She attacks the infectious rhythms on the title track–the story of how she up and left Alberta and headed east for a new life–and turns it into a hymn of liberation, self-determination, and pride.
In a week where pride is on a lot of people’s mind, at a time when celebrating your uniqueness seems like the most dangerous thing in the world to do, where every passing hour holds the potential for more misery and heartache, Tanika Charles rallies us to rise above it all. Soul Run is a stirring reflection on a life that could have been, and a colourful and vibrant celebration of a bright present and exciting future.