Live Review: Imani Chyle at the Viper Room

Live - Imani ChyleTHISONE_5096

Material: Soul and rock collide in Imani Chyle’s hard-hitting music. Her fierce attitude transmits through personal lyrics delivered with gritty intensity. The menacing riffs and tight-knit rhythms match her growling vocal lines that channel old school rap and R&B. “Lose Myself,” which differs from the cathartic energy of the other material, is Chyle’s most successfully composed song. A funky bass line and beat make the song danceable, similar to “Doin’ It My Way,” a smooth, groovy tune with enchanting guitar chords that echo in the background. The call and response in the choruses hearken back to classic soul tunes and make them catchy.

Musicianship: Chyle sings passionately and attacks her vocals, but struggles to hold lower register notes. White and Beddingfield hold down backup harmonies, which enhance the choruses, but Beddingfield could inject more girth into his vocals. Noble walks a consistent stride on the bass that melds with Palmer’s tight, pocket playing. Palmer has flashy tricks befitting of rock and roll but doesn’t overplay. Azar shows dynamic laying down grizzly riffs and gentler, melodic chords.

Performance: The singer and company commanded the audience with soulful energy. Beginning with “Soul & Rock N Roll,” a song epitomizing her sound with a mellow verse that transitions to a thrashing chorus reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine, ignited the fire that burned for the rest of her set. As her set progressed, Chyle could not make smooth transitions from intense rapping verses to the cleaner chorus melodies. The backing band was clearly well-rehearsed, but occasionally drowned out the backup harmonies during the verses.

“Doin’ It My Way” slowed down the pace and Chyle showcased her higher register. Towards the end of the song, however, her voice became hoarse, which affected the rest of the songs. Her passion never wavered, though, who plays with excellent dynamics, which work for the ballads and heavier songs.

Performance: Mackay hammered out a set of originals, with a lively cover of Jason Aldean’s “When She Says Baby” thrown in. Unfortunately, the cover was the climax of the set. If Mackay could harness that energy and apply it to his own material, which is well- written and easy to sing along to, he would be well on his way.

On every song, Mackay or Langham played twangy, vibrato-filled solos that melded beautifully with the music. “Pick Up The Pieces” got the crowd moving and Mackay

and she continued to sing her best despite her tired vocals. The audience responded positively to the groove on “Lose Myself,” but vocalized the fact that the artist wasn’t annunciating her lyrics. Chyle and the band ended on a high note with “Warrioress,” a hard, rocking song rich with heart and grungy riffs.

Summary: Chyle has developed a unique sound and has shown potential with “Lose Myself” and “Doin’ It My Way.” Writing more songs in that vein will attract a larger audience, but she needs to practice her vocals so her performances measure up to the recorded material.
—Vincent Stevens