Tanika Charles
Soul Run

by Jim Di Gioia

May 20, 2018

Soul Run is a stirring reflection on a life that could have been, colourful and vibrant in its celebration of a bright present and an exciting future.

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You could say Tanika Charles’s 2016 debut, Soul Run, was born out of a break-up, but life shake-up would be a more accurate description of her personal journey leading up to the album. Regardless of how you categorize it, Soul Run bounces back from heartache and the blues with tremendous resiliency and a determined spirit.

Leaving an impending marriage and life on an Alberta farm behind, Charles moved to Toronto to sing, working with the likes of Bedouin Soundclash and Zaki Ibrahim, and releasing an EP titled What!What?What!? In 2010. Even though the six-year gestation period between that initial EP and this Soul Run was lengthy in terms of music release cycles, the wait was indeed worth it. Soul Run sprints through classic R&B, soul, and Motown sounds, picking up modern hip-hop samples and breaks, hints of jazz and 60s psychedelia along the way. The throughline is Charles’s piercing, undeniably powerful voice. Whether she’s singing about shopping sprees (“Money”) or reaching emotional and physical breaking points (“Heavy”), Charles holds nothing back. She attacks the infectious rhythms on the title track — the story of how she up and left Alberta and headed east for a new life — and turns it into a hymn of liberation, self-determination, and pride.

As we approach a month when pride will be on a lot of people’s minds, at a time when celebrating your uniqueness seems like the most dangerous thing in the world to do, where every passing hour holds the potential for more misery and heartache, Tanika Charles rallies us to rise above it all. Soul Run is a stirring reflection on a life that could have been, colourful and vibrant in its celebration of a bright present and an exciting future.

Jim Di Gioia

CoFounder at DOMINIONATED
Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.

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