When you listen to, and review lots of soul music, it’s easy to become blasé. Maybe the aural palette becomes jaded and much of what you work on seems to sound much of a muchness. From time to time though something comes along that makes you sit up and maybe listen a bit more carefully as you uncover a new flavour or an inspiring garnish. Such an album is this one – ‘Sex, Love And Philosophy’ from Soul-Id. The album is an exciting one – but it’s not what you might call “traditional” soul – though there’s more real soul in it than there is in much of what is currently dubbed “modern soul”. Indeed though the music here is stylistically a far cry from the sounds of Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye, those greats would find herein more to relate to than they would in the clinical ramblings of the “modern soul” crew. First though a brief biography: Soul-Id is essentially a multi racial quartet – songstress Tchai from Burundi, soul man V from DR Congo, old school crooner Dad’D from Rwanda and European producer Urban Deep. Their album was recorded chiefly in Brussels but mixed in Los Angeles and it was released in the States last year. Now available in Europe, we can begin to understand why the album was critically acclaimed Stateside. Musically, it’s obvious that the group have their roots in old school commitment but equally, they’ve been immersed in the work of people like Maxwell, D’Angelo, Jill Scott and the Platinum Pied Pipers while song-wise, they understand the importance of construction and melody. Add to that the band’s ethnicity and you’ll start to understand why their music is being dubbed “Afropean Soul”. Hear it all come together on ‘Even Though’ – a delightfully gentle beater that will recall the best of Tony, Toni, Tone – or the steady groove of ‘Is This Love’ – a cut that could be Mary J Blige minus her latent aggression. Elsewhere ‘How Come’ is a bumpy beater with an Afro flavour, ‘Love Of My Life’ has something of Jaheim about it, ‘Beauty And Sin’ begins with superb acapella harmonies and the crisp ‘Oh, Oh, Oh’ suggests Jill Scott. That said, the Soul-Id sound is more than the sum of all those influences/comparisons and to hear it at its very best try the cover of Spandau Ballet’s ‘True’. I’ve always thought it was a good song (along with any number of soul artists who’ve sampled it), but here it’s quite transformed. The beats are delicious, the vocal interplay is superb and the parping brass works a treat. It’s an adventurous cut and just one of several excellent selections on an album that’s one of the year’s best.