Jain – ‘Souldier’ review

Score

The French star's second album is full of love and diversity – and a whole load of enjoyable silliness

You’ll find this hard to believe, but one of the most exhilarating songs of 2018 is basically just the Inspector Gadget theme tune given a trendy trap makeover. ‘Inspecta’ steals the show roughly halfway through Jain’s second album ‘Souldier’, when this unexpected gem blends the fanfare of the 1983 composition for the TV series with a big, booming bassline. This slice of cheesy ‘80s pomp has been sampled by rappers for a little while now, but none have had quite as as much fun with it as Jain.

The French artist’s second album, ‘Souldier’, is full of endearing moments like this. ‘Flash’, the record’s second track, comes with all the swagger of Amy Winehouse’s timeless 2007 album, ‘Back To Black’, while ‘Star’ sounds like your favourite Sega Mega Drive game having a bit of a meltdown. It’s diverse, cartoonish and a bloody riot.

This will come as a little shock to those who’ve latched onto Jain already. The 26-year-old burst onto the international scene in 2015 with her debut album ‘Zanaka’, whose slinking track ‘Come’ – a number one single in France and Spain – made dents in rest of Europe and beyond, while the funk-laden ‘Makeba’ had a similar effect picking up fans in Coldplay and landing performances on prime TV chat shows.

What made that album, and in turn this follow-up, was the diverse palette of influences at Jain’s hand. She grew up in Toulouse, Abu Dhabi, The Republic of Congo and Paris – and, in stunning fashion, the pull of these environments gradually reveal themselves throughout ‘Souldier’. Lead single ‘Alright’ flits between infectious optimism (“Everything’s going to be just right / If love is around”) and gritty drum’n’bass with an Afrobeat flair. ‘Dream’, meanwhile, is stripped-back Euro-tinged pop that’s hinged on Jain’s piercing vocals.

There are fun and games to be had in places, but some of the most pertinent moments are its quietest. Take the title track ‘Souldier’, which was penned in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016, a horrific attack on the LGBTQ+ community that reverberated around the world. In it, Jain implores the world to show love and unity in the face of sheer terror: And we must now keep in our minds that love is always right / Yeah, we must now keep in our minds that love is a power we have”. Fortune favours the ones with love in their hearts, and Jain’s ‘Souldier’ shows bagfuls.

Details

Release date: August 24, 2018
Record label: Spookland