Unless their is a specific reason, I will never listen to music that I am going to review (before) I am confirmed to reviewing it. I gave my lovely Editor In Chief a heads up (shout out Nic) that I wanted to review Chuck.$oul and CandaceK’s “The Soul Stacks“, waited for the all clear, and only then did my ears enter the fray. This means that, regardless of the quality of what I ended up listening to, I was committed to critiquing it. That way I had an even chance of being either supremely impressed, or rather underwhelmed.

Listening to the EP’s icebreaker, ‘Good To You‘, I have to say that I was leaning heavily towards the latter. The song seems to spend its entire 2 minute and 58 second length waiting to, for its somewhat undercooked beat, to grow some teeth. I can’t help but think of this being played by a band, at a bar, with its vocalist playing the background, and it’s listeners not doing much listening. I was expecting more of the same….

And then the funky, beat laden Soul of ‘Come Over‘ pushed the needle firmly in the other direction. CandaceK immediately sounds far more at home and the pattern changes on the classic Boom Bap drums, don’t allow the listener to take the song for granted. The EP is meant as a nod towards the superb Soulful classics of the 60’s and 70’s and this song does just that, without getting itself to hung up on nostalgia. But why not open the EP in such positive fashion?

That question is only emboldened and double underlined as the EP improves with every song. The smooth and ever so slightly eerie ‘Anticipate‘ is way to short to do it any real justice. While the lovely layered vocals on the subtle head nodder, ‘Tomorrow‘, are a great foil for Chuck taking a less in-your-face approach with its production. And although it’s only really an interlude of sorts, the vocal/piano duet, ‘Playing Games’ is CandaceK’s standout moment on the EP. But the best is saved for last.

Much like goldilock’s favourite bowl of porridge, ‘Love’s Game‘ takes all of The Soul Stacks common elements, gets them all just right and could make some noise with those that like to dig a little deeper.

The project as a whole is well put together with all of its outings getting straight to the point. The only stumbler is the inexplicable use of the opening song. I have found this more than once recently, and I fail to understand why such great music is hidden behind such a non-committal opening song. That aside I can only hope that next time I am giving a big thumbs up to an album as oppose to an EP.

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