For a band that found their start as a middle school talent show performance almost ten years ago, Ottawa soul-jazz pop group Monday I Retire have come a long way. Fronted by brother-sister duo Ben and Mackenzie Di Millo, and rounded out by guitarist MJ Heney, bassist Andre Morrill, and drummer Stephen Adubofuor, the Ottawa five-piece have been hard at work to complete their latest EP. The eponymous 6-track record is the follow-up to their 2010 debut Worn & Reeling EP (although the two albums seem to come from two entirely different bands – Mackenzie was 15 at the time, and Stephen was not in the lineup).
Fast forward to 2016, and Monday I Retire seem to have hit the refresh button on both their musicality and maturity, and are ready to dazzle the music world. Blending together their polished combination of jazz, soul, pop, and R&B, Monday I Retire is 28-minutes of captivating, easy-listening tunes that give each member the space to contribute their own flavour to the mix.
After joining the band just over two years ago, Adubofuor has added a colourful punch with his drumming. Heavily influenced by jazz and gospel, he provides a platform for the slick R&B piano and guitar layers from Ben Di Millo and Heney to glide across. Glued together by the sharp drum fills from Abudofuor, tracks such as “Wasting”, “Can’t Understand”, and “Closer To” provide a welcomed example of the band’s cohesiveness and melangé of sound, as playful time signatures, and interwoven harmonies give the tracks an irresistible quality.
With such a tight-knit and talented band behind her, lead singer Mackenzie Di Millo is certainly given room to shine, showcasing her broad vocal range and powerful delivery. Switching effortlessly between soft and sweet, and dynamic and electrifying on “Wasting” and “Closer To”, her voice is nothing short of dazzling, channelling the energy of the talented jazz songstresses before her. The Norah Jones-esque track “Cobh (Cove)” and beautiful album-ending single “Come Si Bella” highlight Di Millo’s soft, crooning stylings. But before bringing the album to a close, the young vocalist takes one last opportunity to unleash all she has, as “Come Si Bella” comes to an explosive and dynamic finale.
Standing out on the track list is the 8-minute blues rock track “Lake Song”. Split up into three parts, the song opens with a smooth guitar solo, before the entire band eventually joins in, setting the pace and introducing the catchy melody that becomes the song’s home base. Each of the five members find the time and place to release a little extra zest into the track, as the builds and crashes welcome in solos, fills, and Mackenzie’s illuminating voice.
Although technically their second release, the new EP is an articulate and impressive first look into their growth and maturity, blowing their rookie release out of the water. Monday I Retire has the band setting the bar higher, and showing listeners they are right where they want to be.
Get your copy of Monday I Retire EP and stay up to date with the band through their website.