Kathleen Brooks – The Soul of Rock ‘n’ Roll
Kathleen Brooks’ sprawling fifteen song musical statement, The Soul of Rock ‘n’ Roll, is intended to work as a soundtrack for her stage musical The Legend of Kristy Love in the Soul of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but it works as a standalone collection of songs like the best musical theater always does. The unique duel use of the compositions on this collection should come as no surprise. Kathleen Brooks has been working on her art for many years, in a variety of configuration, and hasn’t observed any conventional rules about where she can and can’t go. By accident or (more likely) design, The Soul of Rock ‘n’ Roll nearly encompasses the full breadth of a cultural phenomenon that’s defined our species’ society for over half a century, but she’s also helmed a collection certain to entertain and knock your socks off.
Much of the album is fixed on a R&B/soul/funk sound of some variety. The first song and, arguably, one of the album’s finest tracks is “Keep Believing/Believe in Yourself” and the wide-eyed inspiration fueling Brooks’ singing on this tune is the icing on a particularly delicious musical cake. “Without You”, “Good to See You”, “Thankful”, “Love Is on My Mind”, “Get Smooth”, and “Touch Me” all explore different shades and types of R&B with different instruments focusing the musical efforts from one track to the next. The first of the aforementioned group moves Brooks into a funkier side of the spectrum while the later “Touch Me” restrains the keyboard touches in favor of a performance centered more on traditional instruments. “Get Smooth” is great fun as she shamelessly and gloriously rides a dance pop arrangement with great snap and “Good to See You”, paired up with the track “Thankful”, bring a lot of character to the release thanks to their outlook and lyrical content while showing her mastery of the slowly evolving, relaxed R&B ballad.
“Listen to the Music” and “Rainbow of Love” are two of the more “experimental” numbers on the release that show Brooks is unafraid to step outside of what audiences may expect from her. The first of the two songs is an effort in a rockier direction than we have heard from her on the release while “Rainbow of Love” pays loving homage to reggae music with great invention and class. “It’s Good to See You Again”, naturally, recalls the song with a similar title from earlier in the album, but this is even more refined rock effort than “Listen to the Music” with some particularly nice guitar work. “Dream Your Dreams”, the album’s finale, shows that Brooks has a firm sense of construction as well – it makes for a particularly neat ending as it, essentially, restates the message behind the opener, albeit in a much different lyrical and musical fashion. The spirit, however, is the same. It’s an undefeated spirit and you can hear the inspiration bursting from Brooks on every cut. The Soul of Rock ‘n’ Roll is one of these rare releases that cover virtually every base.