Soul Food for Thought, the second release by Vanessa Rodrigues' Soul Project band is a funky theme album that serves up more of that big bad B-3 groove you've come to enjoy, while at the same time taking a jab at the food industry ... you are what you eat, so feel the beat and take a minute to think about where your food comes from ...
"Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants" - Michael Pollan
Vanessa Rodrigues - Hammond B-3 organ
Olivier René-de-Cotret - guitar
Jean-Pierre Lévesque - drums
DJ Killa-Jewel - turntables
And special guest: MC BluRum 13 - rap/vocals
Article in the Montreal Mirror magazine:
Vanessa Rodrigues is a prolific local musician whose latest project blends a healthy combination of funk, groove and jazz with food activism. It's called Soul Food For Thought and the self-proclaimed Hammond Diva – she rocks the Hammond B3 organ like nobody's business - brings mindfulness to her complex and innovative tunes.
As with all good musicians, Rodrigues continues to push herself to new musical boundaries. Her collaborators are just as committed to complex music and food activism as she is, but that came more from synchronicity than careful planning. Soul Food For Thought brings together Rodrigues with DJ Killa Jewel and drummer Jean-Pierre Lévesque, long-time collaborators, and newcomers, MC BluRum13 and guitarist Olivier René-de-Cotret. This powerful group not only makes music that makes your hips swing all on their own, but digs under the surface of the food industry.
The album can't easily be classified, since songs slip easily between genres like fresh, organic fish, now jazz, now funk, and even the occasional hip hop groove. Speaking of fish, one very addictive song on the new album, Chompy, is named for the infamous two-jawed fish pulled from Lake Athabasca near the Alberta tar sands. It's a low groove that makes good use of the history of organ music in dark films and though the river described isn't quite a black lagoon, you'll taste traces of it in the rich sound.
The organ also has a history of powerful celebration, particularly in churches and this comes through in Eater's Manifesto, the most evangelical song on the whole album. Without using words, it insists on dancing, joining in and taking a different look on what's on the plate in front of us, and how it got there. Like all good gospel grooves, it carries you along with it, enticing you to agree instead of forcing an idea down your throat.
Any jazz lover knows of the fierce and sometimes destructive competition between singers and musicians. On this project though, you'll only hear creative and thought-provoking riffs from an up and coming rapper surrounded by satisfying grooves. Vanessa has a long history as an impressive band leader, so rather than fight for space, she makes room for all collaborators to add their special blend of spices and they always solo with the understanding that it's ultimately her recipe.
MC BluRum13 raps on two tracks, What's In This, a song asking a fairly reasonable question of our boxed food culture; and Planted, a fascinating story told from the perspective of a plant itself. If you're into Michael Pollan, you'll find these two songs edgy, topical and much less preachy than other activist music out there.
You don't have to love Herbie Hancock to love Watermelon Man and this version will have you craving fresh grooves for weeks to come. Ode to Monsanto blows kisses at one of the giants in the industry and winks at their, shall we say, insouciant attitude towards organic, local foods. Pick up a copy of this eclectic and altogether mouth-watering menu that is sure to tickle your musical palette.