EP: A Dark Horse
Written by: Chiara DiAngelo
Based out of Niagara/Toronto, Souls are a band you may not yet be familiar with, but they are no stranger to the Southern Ontario music scene. Comprised of Dave Fontaine (vocals), Andrew Brandes (guitar), Trevor Speechly (bass, guitar), Shanika Lewis-Waddell (keys, vocals), Gregory Goertzen (cello, bass), and Charles Kyer (drums), there is a good chance you’ve heard at least one of the former projects members were involved in – prime examples being Sleeper Set Sail and Sleep the Season. The six-piece released their second EP A Dark Horse back in June. It offers up a unique blend of orchestral folk elements combined with gritty passion that is unlike anything else I’ve come across. I managed to make it out to both their release shows in St. Catharines and Toronto and have been longing to write about these dynamic four songs ever since.
The EP starts strong with title track “A Dark Horse.” A chilling and riveting instrumental introduction leads into the passionate aggression and raw vocals of frontman Fontaine, who right away proves he is a force to be reckoned with. The song comes to a peak when he bellows, “this is the end;” the pounding of the instruments behind him rattle your bones with an intensity that rocks you to the innermost depths of – yes – your soul.
Taking a completely different musical direction, second song “Smoke” depicts a sad lament, filled with a sense of loss and the defeat of letting a loved one walk away. The track features emotionally-charged yet heart-breakingly melancholy cello from Goertzen. The tempo quickens towards the end of the song as the instruments build to the culmination of distraught anguish voiced through Fontaine’s vocals as he repeatedly demands “Where the hell have you gone?” A similar sense of emotion continues on into “Walk Alone,” though the sense of tragedy at times gives way to allow the gentle and carefree “ladidadadada’s” to emerge. The token female in the group, Lewis-Waddell really shines on final track, “Plastic Halos.” Her spellbinding voice peaks through Fontaine’s gruffness to create a sound that is at once gripping, and that haunts you long after the song has come to a close.
A Dark Horse is available for purchase through the IndoorShoes Community Record Store. For the full Souls experience though, trust me, you are going to want to see them live. Check out their live video for “Walk Alone” and then go see them at The Underground Garage in Toronto on Thursday October 25.