Even the most successful tracks only really make you want to go and listen to some...
Tim Nelson 2007
No Place Like Soul is something of a rebirth for Soulive, former instrumental soul-funk trio now turned vocal quartet with the addition of singer Toussaint (previously they had used guest vocalists including Chaka Khan and Ivan Neville) to brothers Alan Evans on drums and Neal Evans on organ as well as the often beautiful guitar of Eric Krasnow. The results are mixed. While clearly all excellent musicians, the tracks here often feel a little colourless, a little stilted. On the other hand, Soulive’s willingness to expand and experiment is to be applauded, it’s just it’s all a little bit too comfy; even the most successful tracks only really make you want to go and listen to some real Hendrix or Marley.
While you could imagine getting into the music on a sunny spree day at an American college, the CD is more often reminiscent of yesterday’s takeaways. It’s no accident that the best songs, “Waterfall,” and “Calling” are those where the band stick to their strengths and don’t attempt horrible American reggae; and while Toussaint isn’t a bad singer, he’s a bit too nasal for his own good, while the lyrics can be a bit pedestrian. “One of Those Days” hints at a tougher, more political stance that might prove an interesting direction, but couldn’t itself be called hugely successful. The balladry of “Mary” and the funk attack of “Yeah Yeah” work well, but the cod-reggae of “Callin’” and “Morning Light” gets pretty wearing after a while. It’s also indicative that one of the album’s best tracks, “Outrage”, is an instrumental. Things do improve towards the end, particular with “Bubble”, a tribute to Led Zeppelin and the cosmic, Shuggie-Otis like “Kim”, and the album as a whole isn’t without its charms, but some of this grit is better than the other.