A ten-strong band is regiment-like in the music world and King Solomon’s first offering Ceasefire is a highly political one. Opening track, ‘Poor Man’ is accessible with its high summer, anthemic, open sound. But don’t be fooled: despite the bubbling, winding bass, joyous keys and vibrant as marmalade brass it is an inciting protest song – “Spare a thought for number ninety nine / When one’s on the throne.” Lyrically it cuts to the political quick, particularly that of the current UK climate – “Now they want to scrap the minimum wage / How do you feel?”
‘Officer’ rings in the changes set for the rest of the album, the ombré already darkening: the hopeful, naïve melodies of ‘Poor Man’ gone; minor chords, increased tempo and tension are palpable. Third track, ‘War Poem’ spreads the pool of blood worldwide with a bluesy intro, the marriage between lilting, mournful, eerie backing vocals harmonising with brass heightening the building emotion clearly at the heart of the album.
The second half of the album is a humanitarian and an ecclesiastical SOS: “Jah, take away this pain. ‘Oh I hate it’” – ‘Kingdom’ rolls beautifully in sadness and despair, with Barton’s softer vocal more suited here than Salmon’s strong lead. The previous atmosphere of upbeat-raucousness is now distant; indeed the thrashing, punk percussion reflects frustration. It’s a subtle tour-de-force which gets better the more you listen.
Piano-led ‘Carry Me’ takes the listener straight to church. The track’s hypnotic, lulling start invokes a sense of numbness but it builds, mirroring the emotional journey of a soldier. Ceasefire’s eponymous track has a flavour of arrives soul ‘n’ funk about it. It is sermonic (“You’re a light unto the world.”). It ends soft, like peace.
Ceasefire tells us that we can change the world. Religious anything might not sit well with everyone but inspiring peace undoubtedly will. Ceasefire like all great protest music will undoubtedly move you because it sounds bloody good doing it.
If it doesn’t, well, you deserve to be shot.