A refresher into the sound of James Reid, he comes back cool, calm, and confident with the fizzy track, Soda.
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This is no Cinderella story, but holding the same significance to when the clock struck 12:00 midnight today, James Reid went through a transformation of sorts. Well, at least to us the audience, because as it turns out, the actor, singer, and head honcho of Careless Music has been going through quite the journey of introspection over the past year. You know, just like the rest of us have. “Despite the chaos and tragedy that was 2020, it really challenged me and forced me to evolve in more ways than just music,” he says in a statement, parlaying into an announcement of his long anticipated return to music, at least right smack under the spotlight, with his single, Soda.
“Last year was a very heavy year, and I wrote this song during quarantine. It became a time that I was very introspective and I guess this song is a reflection of that insight, of learning to turn these negative things into positive experiences,” James Reid reveals during the press conference of this release. It wasn’t as if he really went anywhere. In fact, he was just as, if not busier in the past few years building and making the irreverent label as best as it can be. Instead of subscribing to the well-oiled machinations of mainstream show business, he turned insular and independent, helping and honing emerging artists that would add depth to the landscape of local music with their sound, their lyrics, and their stories. Last year alone, he was hands-on and focused on the critical success that was Nadine Lustre’s album, Wildest Dreams. It was such a collaborative and communal effort, that he even made an appearance that not only was necessary to the narrative, but also made sense to the fantasies of many.
Following his last single in 2019, Healing, as well as of feature spots with Massiah, Avin, and Mandaue Nights, Soda is a refresher into the sound of James Reid in many ways. Like a capped bottle of the ice cold carbonated drink that is shaken, James Reid explodes into a full on soul and electro funk experience that bubbles and brims with a lot of spirit. A smooth transition from his early penchant for R&B and hip-hop, he thumps-thump-thumps with a cool, calm, but ultimately confident mid-tempo musical exposition that makes good use of those buoyant rhythm and bass lines, as well as of the groove-inducing 808s.
Taking you to a sepia-tinted trip of soul searching, Soda begins with an introduction of gilded percussions that coalesces with the sound of liquid being poured. Followed by a distinctly soul and electro funk orchestration of the modern times, as can be heard from the likes of Tom Misch, Lliam, Masego, Mac Ayres, and Prep, James Reid sits comfortably along those contemporaries, getting real from the get-go. “Grab your shit, I’m on my way / We’ll work it out, it’s just a phase / Got it tuned to the right frequency (It’s just love),” he begins in his signature vocals. The honeyed track glides on nicely, draping with the same gleaming viscosity that sticks on you both in sentiment and sound. “Pain can wake you up and raise you / Can’t explain, is it love that’s playin’? / Nobody knows where this all goes / Just let it flow,” he continues James Reid in Soda, making it known that this is more than just a song of sweet return.
“I just really wanted to start the year with something fresh. This is a new sound for me that I’ve been working on since 2020,” he says of the track, which was a result of a collaboration with Careless Music, specifically Massiah and Nadine Lustre. “Last year was a very heavy year, and I wrote this song during quarantine. It became a time that I was very introspective and I guess this song is a reflection of that insight, of learning to turn these negative things into positive experiences.” Anchored on learnings and enlightenment, Soda is a natural progression from his last album, Palm Dreams, with a heavy leaning to a deeper purpose. “The message of the song is to really just have an open mind, to see the light in things, learn to see your own darkness as a teacher, and just to be present enough to make the most of life’s surprises,” he says definitively.
“Can we take time? Don’t lose the stars in your eyes / We could stay high or we could fall with the tide / Just ride,” he closes in the final gulp of Soda, truly quenching the thirst for good music, one that you have to admit we need a whole lot of these days.