There are moments in time where you come across a band, and it is just a magical moment. Rewind back to 2017 when I heard Soraia for the first time, I heard their song ‘Why’ and could not buy the album fast enough. ‘Dead Reckoning’ ended up being my Album of the Year for 2017, and they are on the verge of releasing the long-awaited follow up album ‘Dig Your Roots.’ I came into this album with huge expectations that were never going to be easy to meet, but they have done it. While I cannot say yet that this is going to be my 2020 Album of the Year, they have set the bar incredibly high for everything else I hear this year.
‘Dangerous’ gets the album going and immediately shows that this album is not going to be as glossy as ‘Dead Reckoning’ was in terms of its production. This song hit me immediately and was not as subtle as the first two songs they released from the album. ZouZou Mansour’s vocals are laced with attitude and a confidence that could dominate the world. The backing vocals are perfectly done, and the bridge takes the song to another level. ‘Wild Woman’ settles into a cool groove after a hooky guitar riff and then later a great solo by Mike Reisman. The mix across the album is faultless with Travis Smith’s bass getting plenty of exposure. Soraia doesn’t just write songs; they craft them in some magical place. Brianna Sig (drums) and Smith are dynamic together across the album with ‘Evergreen’ being just one example. The shouty backing vocals give the song a live feel, and the bridge here slows things down and lets Mansour’s vocals penetrate your soul.
Soraia has many roots in the garage rock of the Nuggets era but has also allowed many other ingredients and spices into their sound. ‘Foxfire’ features some nice guitar work by Reisman and carries much of that Nuggets influence as a semi-ballad that features some tasteful backing vocals. The bass line has also been stuck in my head for three days now. I have already mentioned it and will again, but I really want to stress that Mansour sings her ass off on this album with this song being just one example. ‘Darkness (is my Only Candle)’ turns up the tempo as the song builds and builds into an electrifying chorus, and the song serves as the perfect counter to ‘Foxfire.’ The keyboards here provide some extra texture to the song. The band decides to do a Prince song on this album too after covering ‘Wow’ on ‘Dead Reckoning.’ They have opted to tackle ‘Nothing Compares 2 You.’ I can remember when Sinead O’Connor had a huge hit with this song, and I will say I didn’t appreciate the song then as my musical tastes were almost strictly hard rock and metal at the time. The band incorporates more of a 60’s ballad feel with extra power added to the music. Sig’s drums really pop in the mix. I could definitely see this version of the song finding a new audience if it received some plays on mainstream radio. Mansour’s vocals will stop you in your tracks and don’t be surprised if you suddenly realize the hairs on your arm are standing. The guitar solo fits perfectly with Reisman shining across the entire song.
‘Superman is Gone’ turns up the tempo with some jangly guitar and excellent rhythm work pulling the listener into the song. Another killer chorus is delivered, and I have found myself singing this in my head over the last several days. Keeping the energy going with ‘Way That You Want It,’ Smith’s bass and Reisman guitar both stand out here with the guitar solo jumping out of the speakers. One of the immediate draws to Soraia for me was the lyrics, and this album continues that brilliance. This song takes a pretty standard topic but conjures incredibly cool imagery and really paints a sonic picture. The first song that was released from this album quite some time ago now was ‘Still I Rise’ which has become something of a person anthem for me. The band again incorporates a heavy Nuggets influence here but also keep it feeling fresh and modern. It serves as another example of the band’s lyrical abilities. I also love how the band once again utilize some keyboards here to give the song extra texture, and the mix allows everything to be heard. Sig’s drumming is amazing across the album with this being an excellent example of her work.
Reaching the closing stretch of the album, ‘Don’t Have You’ initially features Mansour singing over just a piano as the ballad slowly builds. Mansour’s lyrics connect with me on every level; the spoken vocal here is beyond magical and adds so much character to the song. Reisman’s guitar solo is laid down perfectly. ‘Euphoria’ serves as a hook laced closer about the power heroin can carry with it. Mansour sings with incredible power here as she again paints a canvas with her words. The groove created by the band will have you moving, and, to be fair, I have not stopped rocking and shaking since I first started typing this review. The band speeds things up as they increase the temp on the way out the door.
This album has been pretty much on repeat for three days now for me, and I have found no faults with it. As I said in the beginning, I cannot crown it Album of the Year yet as we still have 11 months to go, but I am having a hard time imagining finding a record that connects with me as much as this one does in that time. Soraia have created another masterpiece with an album that showcases each member of the band while also showing how well they come together as a group. Mark your calendar now and buy this one as soon as you can. Your soul will thank you.
Buy ‘Dig Your Roots’ Here
Author: Gerald Stansbury