CBC Music First Play / by Michael J Warren

Tanika Charles’ debut solo album, Soul Run, is literally about being on the run. Before her music career, she was engaged to be married on a farm just outside of Edmonton. Charles felt something was not right and she left the relationship on a whim to sing with friends in Toronto and has never looked back. Until now.

“It’s my growth after a break-up, it’s the dating scene I experienced after the break-up,” said Charles in an interview with CBC Music. “And dating is falling in love, it’s being heartbroken, it’s just a series of events that happened after the break-up. Up until now, where I’m happy as can be and life is good.”

Channelling a vintage soul sound for much of the record, Charles imbues the universal themes of relationships with wholly emotive singing, layered vocal arrangements and pinpoint lyrical dexterity. “Love Fool” and the Radio 2 Top 20-charting title track exhibit classic soul traits while “Heavy” and “Darkness and the Dawn” hint at exciting new sonic directions for Charles. Collaborating with artists like producer Slakah the Beatchild, and vocalists Divine Brown and Zaki Ibrahim, Soul Run is filled with immediately resonant songs and melodies, displaying a penchant for songcraft presumably instilled in her youth.

“When I think back to the music I listened to when I was growing up, it was straight jazz,” says Charles. “My dad, he’s crazy about music. And we’d have nights where the family sits down and we would listen to music for, like, two hours and just talk amongst each other. It was Bob James, it was Spyro Gyra, it was George Benson.”

Add the classic R&B/soul tutelage imparted by her older brother and Charles’ Soul Run is, despite the heartbreak explored, a hugely enjoyable ride on an emotional roller-coaster.

Pre-order Soul Run here, stream the album above and look out for a CBC Music First Play Live with Tanika Charles coming soon.