Tanika Charles – Papillon De Nuit: The Night Butterfly

“I always thought it was a strange insect. Once while in Paris, a friend swatted at one and I asked: ‘Was that a moth?’. I was told: ‘No, that’s a papillon de nuit.’ I thought that was the most beautiful description for this otherwise overlooked creature. When I later learned of the symbolism associated with it, I felt that it really spoke to both my own situation and also what we’ve all been going through.”

Tanika Charles "Papillon De Nuit"

Another lockdown album. This time from Toronto based Tanika Charles. It is her third album and was just released on the Record Kicks label from Milan (thank you Francesca). It appears right on time for the beginning of spring with its warmth, vulnerability, and sincerity. I really like the oldschool soul meets today’s R&B sound on “Hold Me (Like A Grudge)”, a feelgood song which cries out for more. Tanika’s voice is solid throughout. Sympathetic, strong, and really oozing beauty and comfort throughout the 11 tracks.

There’s a wonderful neo-soul treatment on “Frustrated” which comes up with a beautiful backing vocal arrangement. We also get a sweet, a bittersweet Tanika on “Don’t Be So Entitled” which reminds me of the best soul ballads and downtempo moods of the early Ruby Turner. Overall, it’s a pretty raw, acoustic, straight-forward sounding album with solid soul numbers like “Rent Free” or the opener “Million Ways”. There is almost a Motown feel on some of the songs and its recording of the drums, like on the midtempo swayer “Gin And Wine”. Really dig the keys on the moody, Jill Scott-like title track.

For the dancefloor and for rap fans, go to “Different Morning” where Tanika sounds strangely out of focus and the rap part isn’t for me, either. I’d rather stick to the beauty and melancholy of “Love Don’t Mean A Thing”. Wonderful backing vocals again on this one which also adds some brass to the proceedings. Then it’s back to 60s sounding raw soul for the last couple of tracks, including a classic duet with Khari Wendell McClelland. Big plus: the album is out on vinyl!

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