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Don’t know much at all about new US soul man RAI, save that he’s all set to release his debut album, ‘Love’s On The Way’ on June 8th . His people aren’t giving too much away about his pedigree, background or that enigmatic moniker but sneak previews of the 12 tracker that is ‘Love’s On The Way’ reveal a mighty fine soul album. Indeed to these ears it’s one of the best proper soul sets to come out of the States so far this year. Why? Well the long player is stuffed with proper songs and RAI’s approach to crafting them is totally contemporary but at the same time it pays respectful homage to soul’s garlanded past. Then, our man delivers the package in silky, soulful tones that brings to mind masters of the art – people like Howard Hewett, Marvin Gaye, and Donny Hathaway and from more recent times, Maxwell.

There’s so much good going on here that it’s hard to know where to start – so what about the title track? ‘Love’s On The Way’ has a feel of Maxwell’s ‘Pretty Wings’ while the vocal channels the timbre of the aforementioned Howard Hewett. It’s an atmospheric ballad – one of many on the album. Right now we’re loving the old school throwback that is ‘You’re All I Need’ which offers everything that we loved about the great group sounds of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

There are more retro flavours on tunes like the jaunty ‘Priceless’ and the finger-clickingly good ‘Save Yourself’. But the album is no exercise in retro. Tunes like ‘Back To Life’ and ‘Get You Home’ are totally contemporary, subtle R&B affairs. Add to those the acoustic feel of the ballad ‘How To Love’ and you have a varied and very satisfying set which RAI describes by saying : “I approached creating my latest project similar to how I imagine a designer approaches creating a collection. Painfully detailed. Each piece unique. Each appealing for different reasons, but it all goes together. I am committed to making good music and I’ve found peace that right now that may not be the most lucrative endeavour, and I’m good with that.”

Thus we commend ‘Love’s On The Way’ to you. It’s available from June 8th