SOUQ ‘At La Brava – Volume Two Of Red Desert Saga’ Album Review


Words Sophie Dunsford

This album’s title includes the words ‘Volume Two’, but don’t be fooled, this is Portuguese band Souq’s debut album following on from a non-existent volume one. The instrument inventory of this six-piece rock outfit contains all the usual suspects, plus the added bonus of saxophone and trombone. Souq’s brass section features heavily, delivering an uplifting energy throughout most of the album. The vocals are sung entirely in English, so you won’t be left wondering what their songs are about. The diversity in instruments, complex layering of sounds and an ebb and flow in musical energy work together to maintain your attention.

Immediately the album greets you with a fanfare of drums, brass and bass. Bruno Tavares’ strong resonating vocals will get under your skin and send intermittent shivers down your spine. Guitar solos at the start of ‘Maniqueen,’ will make you want to get up and groove, and then in comes the brass section again, and that voice. Yes!

The title track ‘At La Brava,’ might make you feel like you’ve just stepped into your local jazz club. It has plenty of high-hat and snare drum strokes and a certain brassiness reminiscent of music you could imagine 1920s flappers dancing to. Souq alternates between jazz and progressive rock in this track, with a little bit of blues thrown into the mix. It makes for fascinating listening!

Fourth track ‘This Thing Of Ours,’ is the standout track of the album, although the saxophone and trombone are used more sparingly here. An acoustic guitar gives the song a little bit of a country vibe. The song has such groove and swagger but it’s all over in less than four minutes and you’ll be left wanting more.

Some of the longer tracks towards the end of the album don’t command quite the same auditory authority. ‘Point Blank,’ runs for just over 11 minutes and while it starts out strong listeners with a short attention span may find their minds wandering during the second half. The same could be said for the album as a whole. The energy and vigor, which has such presence in the first five songs, peters out into a series of calmer, more progressive tracks. Penultimate track ‘Roy & Lee,’ picks up the intensity again and the final track ‘Blood On Dry Year,’ brings it home with some funky guitar riffs which will make you want to listen from the start again.