BLUE SOUL TEN is a soul music entrepreneur/producer who hails from Washington and we believe that he prefers to be known as “Blue Soul Ten” rather than by his given name. In many ways he works like Norman Connors did in back in the day and James Day does right now. That’s to say he uses different teams of musicians and vocalists to help him flesh out his intriguing musical ideas. Many of those ideas were formulated when he worked as a radio DJ and the during his studies at the famed Berklee Music School
Blue Soul Ten’s been making music for almost 20 years and has never quite broken through to the premier leagues especially in the UK and Europe but soul tastemakers are already saying that that’s all set to change with the release of our man’s splendid ‘This Is Worth It’ album. Indeed a coterie of said tastemakers are saying that the 13 tracker is a potential album of the year!
The album has been heralded by a trio of singles. First, last year, there was the LP’s title track – a lovely contemporary mid-tempo soul groove with a soulfully, laid back vocal from Derek Lorenzo. Then came a sensual quiet storm moment, ‘Up To You’ with Shamain at the mic. The third single was ‘Heavenly’. This one featured Skyler Harris alongside and organic rap from Assent and a sweet horn solo. It was/is (if you’ll excuse me) “heavenly”!
Those three singles offered real variety and the album truly is a varied affair. It opens with a proper introduction – ‘All We Need’. The track begins with the producer counting in and bringing in the rhythm before Syauqi Destankia delivers one of the best mid-tempo soul grooves you’ll hear this year. It’s an outstanding track – but it would be churlish to single out highlights. Each cut has plenty to offer the discerning soul collector, so here are just a few pointers. ‘Different Than I’m Used To’ is an inventive production with a jazzy undertow… Skyler Harris up front again. ‘Like I Do’ (Derek Lorenzo again) evokes the atmosphere of a late night jazz lounge while ‘No Love Greater’ – a semi-spoken piece with Sanyiah X out front – might remind you of early Jill Scott.
So, yes, ‘This Is Worth It’ offers neo-soul flavours, but there’s also plenty of contemporary soul of varied tempos, hip-hop, jazz and more. What holds it all together is the obvious love that Blue Soul Ten has for what he’s doing. Throughout, the music is clever, inventive, emotive and it’s clearly been put together with an eye/ear for detail. Yep by any standard, ‘This Is Worth It’ is a fine contemporary black music collection. Album of the year? Well, there are still six months to go so maybe we need to wait and see. But, for sure, come year end Blue Soul Ten’s ‘This Is Worth It’ will be a contender!