NEW WEST RECORDS 27 May 2022
A.J. Haynes is the Seratones’ frontwoman and alongside creating funk soul boogie, brings the message of permanent revolution: “This is a protest album built on the form of protest I’m most interested in at this moment: getting present and sitting through difficult things with abundant joy”.
There is a good deal of joy here – the sort that comes from shaking your booty – ‘Good Day’ is a stand-out soul-pop anthem, lyrically pushing positivity and backing it up with bumping synth-bass and spiralling keyboard flourishes. The voice is warm and recorded perfectly for soul. There’s some range here; from the slow ballad of ‘I’ll Be’ turning into a gentle disco groover to ‘Evidence’ – a short poem that is very much a quiet Patti Smith, hymning the body. At heart, the set is electro-soul with early elements of Goldfrapp, sequencers, harmonised vocals, even at times hinting towards Donna Summer & Gorgio Moroder.
As COVID lockdowns came in, the band was pushed into writing over Zoom and Haynes’ work as a counsellor at an abortion clinic in Louisiana, like many front-line workers, became ever more trying. Music was a release from that and an influence on the coming album, Donna Summer being one of Haynes’ key means of letting off steam. Lyrics roam over personal liberation and celebrating the body. Ballads like ‘Dark Matter’ have a meaningful and soulful drive. “There’s a whole lineage within Black feminism of centring pleasure and centring joy as a means to liberation, and I feel very privileged to have my art richly rooted in Black feminism”, says Angela.
This is an album full of soul, from the ballads to the grooving tunes to the disco elements, one to liberate the hips. Underlying the album is a message of celebrating joy and, for all the talk of Haynes, the band are the impetus for that soulful dance pressure and lighter-waving anthemic quality that links the album’s songs.