A little after a year since its first release, Phil Driver’s Soul Unsigned set up reinforces its position as a major UK soul player with this – its third volume of modern soul from unsigned artists. During the label’s first year, a number of soul commentators have made favourable comparisons between Soul Unsigned’s music and that released by established labels like Expansion, and blow me! … the first track in this new collection can also be found on Expansion’s recent ‘Soul Togetherness’ album. Cut in question is the wonderfully crisp ‘Time Of Your Life’ from Londoner, Tyrone (Lee). No doubt arguments will rage as to who had the track first but really that matters little. What matters is that it’s a great modern soul tune and graces both collections. Its sheer quality sets the bar high as it’s the opener on ‘Unsigned’, but the good news is that there’s a lot more of the excellence. Alexander Davis is another Brit soulster and his ‘You’ve Changed’ offers more of the same crisp modern soul beats as too does Latvia’s J Stever’s ‘Music’, Kiwi band, The Constituents’ ‘Love’, and France’s Jalley with ‘Fire’. Quite a United Nations of Soul there – but the music’s spiritual home – America – isn’t neglected. Veteran band Unified Tribe weigh in with a tight and tuneful ‘Get Up’ while Oregon’s Excellent Gentlemen offer ‘Freaky’ with just the right amount of vocoder to give a retro garnish. All great modern soul … and each would shine on any compilation from any label but there’s a further trio that have quickly become real faves here @ www.soulandjazzandfunk.com and they’re destined to become three of 2009’s very best. First up there’s Alessia Piermarini’s ‘Don’t Step On My Flower’. Hailing from Italy she perfectly marries new age soul to a retro groove that comes straight out of the Maze songbook; then there’s Chris Youngblood’s ‘In Love With You’. It’s the most understated cut on the LP but it will stick with you. Best of the lot though comes from German outfit, Candycream, who hand the vocal on their ‘Give Love A Chance’ to the underrated Tony Momrelle who here manages to sound uncannily like Donny Hathaway. Add to that some sweet brass that could’ve been recorded at Hi and you have a total winner. Space precludes us going into too much detail on good cuts from Skalp, Roman Andren, Mark Drummond and Cool Million but I think you get the message. Soul Unsigned’s Volume 3 is the label’s best collection to date and easily rivals anything that the established labels have issued this year.