The Commotions second full length studio album, appropriately titled Volume II, is a baker’s dozen of high quality soul and blues influenced tunes from an expansive eleven member musical collective with two singers, a wide songwriting base, and a penchant for drafting massively talented guest stars into their projects and incorporating them into the musical mix as if they were longstanding members of the band. The use of both a male and female lead singer, varying depending on the nature of the track, helps the Ottawa headquartered band stand out even more among their contemporaries and crowns a musical presentation that’s thoroughly modern while still looking back to iconic figures and periods in the history of soul and R&B for critical inspiration. These are songs that reach high and, often times, efforts like this bite off more than they can chew and result in noble failures. That isn’t the case with The Commotions’ Volume II however. This is a band and a release that sets the mark high for itself and meets it every time.
“Good Enough” is more than good enough; it’s a natural opener for the album thanks to its robust uplift of energy and the fantastic, passionate vocal Rebecca Noelle brings to bear on the performance. Singer and arrangement alike surge with tremendous energy and Noelle’s singing nails every point in the performance down with complete authority. “Bad Girl” deserves a little bit of biting guitar and it gets it thanks to the playing from David Gaw, but guitar never figures into these arrangements as it might in a rock track and the more orchestral role it takes on helps present these tracks as cohesive compositions rather than a soloist’s vehicle. The lyrical content, never a priority in this genre, should strike listeners as one of the most important components to The Commotions’ presentation and this intelligent bit of songwriting is among the best on Volume II.
“Let Me Kiss You, Baby” is another gem thanks to a real head turning performance courtesy of vocalist Rebecca Noelle, a lovely string arrangement, and the album’s best chorus – hands down. There’s a light commerciality surrounding this song, never forced, that makes it a potential pick for radio play and a certain live crowd pleaser. Ken Seeley’s percolating bass line lacing through “Too Little Too Late” gives it a lot of its movement, the horns take a back seat, and drummer Jeff Asselin’s hard hitting kit work matches up quite well with Seeley’s playing. “Say Yes To Me Tonight” has a upbeat bounce that Jeff Rogers’ singing handles expertly by alternating from a straight forward delivery and soaring during the chorus and other key crescendos. The grinding funk of “Believe In Yourself” has one of Noelle’s most scintillating vocal performances committed to recording on this album and she breezes through the phrasing with equal parts passion and technique. The sole relaxed, slower tempo number on the album “Loving You” excels in a large way thanks a soulful vocal from Rogers. Volume II from The Commotions is the sort of album capable of returning these musical styles to a place of prominence in the public imagination, but it’s clear that this is also music that the band members are passionate about and play with great engagement.