INDEPENDENT SOUL DIVAS: Independence Day (Label: Lola Waxx)

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The ‘Independent Soul Divas’ in this album’s titling are 15 individual artists whose best work over the past few years has been brought together by the Lola Waxx label to create an intriguing indie set that offers something for almost every soul taste. The predominant flavour, though, is contemporary soul and the opening run of tracks highlights some of the best of the genre. The first track is a good example. It’s ‘I Need A Moment’ from Atlanta’s Maya Neiada. The beats are perfect for modern soul steppers while the vocal is cool in the very best nu-soul tradition and makes the most of a catchy chorus. Chanel ‘My Life’ Perry’s ‘Lovely Day’ is another highlight. Using a Keith Barrow sample, the tune profits from some beautifully light piano. Lina’s 2007 cut, ‘Feel The Love’ is altogether breezier and has all the ingredients to become/remain a modern room favourite. It’s one of those ‘good-time-weekend-party’ things and even the rap doesn’t detract from the enjoyable atmosphere. More stately – but still with the ability to set feet tapping and heads nodding – are Lea Loren’s ‘Not Easy’ and D’Cheri’s ‘I’m Alive’. The second lady there (named after Stevie’s ‘My Cherie Amour’, believe it or not) possesses a fine mature soul voice and I’m minded to find more on her. Elsewhere there are cuts from LeNora Jaye, Rene Jones and Caprisa who offers a very crisp ‘Flow Like A River’… another highlight. For variety, the compilers have gone back to 2003 for Kelli Sae’s Latin romp, ‘Latina’, while the same percussive colours tint Margot B’s ‘Crush’ – though with edgy rap input from Chuk Wan, my feeling is that the soul people will reach for the skip button. They’ll possibly press it again for ‘It Is What It Is’ – a skittery R&B cut from Syreeta Shanee though Tiny Lou’s house version of Crystal Waters’ ‘Gypsy Woman’ might pass their critical criteria. It certainly adds variety to an album that has enough quality soul to merit serious investigation.
(BB) 4/5