Seneko’s Soul Numbers is EP #4 in three years for the Americana/soul artist. Each release has lent him ample opportunity to develop his voice. Now, it all culminates in an EP that has Seneko sounding more refined and confident than ever.
Upbeat and charming, ‘The Devil You Don’t Know’ kicks things off with all the components of a great 70s soul belter. Charismatic trade-offs between a maundering lead and epic backing singers, with twangy guitars sprinkled generously around the rest.
Some ace saloon-style piano work, mocked against a Hammond organ, leads ‘Callin’ of the Cause’. The track carries that classic Springsteen vibe. Seneko’s talk-singy vocals and mix of street wisdom delivering a principled, optimistic message. Above all else, the supporting vocalists shine on this one, their technical prowess and vibrant energy cuts through, acting as the perfect foil.
‘Jenny’s with Irene’ rumbles steadily. A groovy bass and drum undercurrent while bubblegum melodies guide Seneko’s smitten words. It’s a solid 80s pop-rock tune but fails to find its feet because of a missing B-section which would have tied the piece together nicely. Monotony kills it a tad.
Things pick up with the reflective ‘Lost on Me’. Seneko’s knack for crafting simple yet well-timed pentatonic melodies is on full display here. His subdued, pained performance brings the track to life, almost akin to Nick Cave at points. The unpretentious, curt yet sweet guitar solo mid-way is also a big plus.
Finally, album closer ‘One Hot Shot’ breaks the mould by starting off with muffled bass and strained, reverb-laden vocal from Seneko. Initially isolating and hopeless in tone, this is rapidly substituted for redemption, thanks to the booming introduction of the band. It’s the sheer power of that ‘big band’ soul combo that grants it such wide appeal. Thankfully, the quality production captures this snappily. Seneko knows that no one can resist an addictive choral sing-along melody, and it’s hard not to indulge him on this one.
Piece by piece, Seneko is gaining ground as a songwriter. This release is still part of the learning process and somewhat lacking a unified sound. But it sees him taking risks, getting more comfortable with his tone and abilities. There’s nothing groundbreaking about the sound, but Seneko proves it’s a timeless, classic brand.