Where You Are Now
(CD Darkest Shade Music)
Ascendant is a three piece band hailing from Chicago, Illinois. The three members are founder Kael Mboya (vocals and keys), Aleata Holloway (vocals and bass) and Michael Lockett (vocals). Together with additional musicians like Phillip Seed (guitar), Calvn Newman (percussion) or Kirk T. Marshall (drums) they create a passionate mixture of soul, funk, jazz with even some reggae influences present.
All songs on their album Where You Are Now have a pleasant live vibe similiar to the albums by The Fuzzband or Oktbrwrld.
Ascendant are obviously on a lyrical mission with their thought-provoking lyrics, something that's really missing in most of today's music. Take the, er, powerful funky groove of Power, that tells us it's best to be at ease with yourself ("When you go your own way/ Some people don't want you around/ They say why be different/ You should settle down/ But I don't think like they do/ There is priceless wealth when you're true to yourself").
The reggae-influenced Give It Up (The Mentality), which could've easily appeared on a Fertile Ground or Julie Dexter album as well, deals with narrow-minded people ("They have to deal with their closed minds/ Their broken hearts/ And their deadlines/ They never choose the lifeline/ They live all alone/ Slave to the mentality").
Illusions is a great ballad with a fine vocal performance by Aleata and again we get some clever thoughts about who defines what beauty should look like ("Why do you hate yourself/ When you look at yourself/ And you reject yourself/ Through someone else's eyes/ Who told you that you're not beautiful/ Just the way you are/ Who's setting your standard/ For what's lovely/ What's delight").
One of my favourite songs on this album is Make It So (Part I & II) that digs deep into 70s soul with it's instrumentation, harmonies and social-conscious lyrics ("It's so sad how we let another person/ Use a concrete curb to lay their head/ It makes me cry that/ Hunger and starvation pave our streets and tour the world each day")
This all may sound a little bit top-heavy on paper (or on screen), but it's Ascendant's music and its diversity in styles that prevents you to be struck dead by their lyrics. To loosen things up they also deliver songs dealing with happiness (the neo-soul influenced Happy with fine bass playing and vocals by Aleata) or the universal issue of love (10-D).
If you're looking for music that defies boundaries and offers food for thought as well, then make sure to get your copy of Where You Are Now.
(For more information visit ascendantmusic.com and cdbaby.com)