Austin, Texas’ soul fusion band Collective Thought dropped their debut album just last week. It’s called Rise. With ten powerhouse tracks, Rise hits with a walloping auditory impact.
Collective Thought is made up of StormShadow (Emcee, vocals), Kelly Hafner (vocals), Project Dead (rapper, vocals), Shawn Hallman (bass), Silverback Jonz (guitar, vocals), and Ras Christopher Francis I (drums, vocals). The band’s music merges elements of reggae, hip-hop, and soul into a visceral sound rife with irie harmonics and glorious vocals.
Lyrically, Collective Thought takes on social issues, existential and philosophical questions, racism, sexism, and social order.
The band believes sincere communication is vital. “The more we listen to each other’s perspectives, the more we can understand each other, and work through the tough realities in front of us, in order to get to a better place.”
Rise opens with “Have Mercy,” a cool reggae-flavored tune with velvety vocals and a compelling groove. Francis’ cymbal crashes add simmering splashes of color to the harmonics. This song is delectable, smooth and fluid.
Along with “Have Mercy,” the outstanding tracks on Rise include “Stars,” a funky, soul-infused tune with snug rapping flow from Project Dead and Hafner’s potently creamy melodic tones. The combination of the two flavors, smooth soul and tight rapping, imbues the tune with palpable organic textures.
“Cymbalic,” with its cashmere reggae stream of sonic hues, highlighted by rapping flows juxtaposed against Hafner’s gorgeous timbres, features skanking guitars and a crisp groove. Perhaps my favorite song on the album is “Mary Jane” because of Hafner’s scrumptious tones, oozing effortless sensuality and simmering steaminess. Jonz delivers a spectacular guitar solo, bright with incandescent flamboyance.
The title track opens with a throbbing bassline seguing into a skanking reggae tune awash in a buff rhythm. Lustrously silky vocal harmonies suffuse the tune with powerful low-slung pigments. Once again, Hafner struts the scrumptious dominance of her honeyed voice, like whiskey-marinated in maple syrup.
“Rain” is another personal favorite. It’s rife with gratifying R&B savors merged with skiffing reggae flavors. I love the rolling emergence of this song, undulating gracefully.
Frankly, all the songs on Rise are superb. Great production, fabulous arrangements, and wonderful vocals make Rise a winner. This is grand soul fusion!