various: The Contemporary Soul Songbook 2 (Label: Soul Unsigned)

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various: The Contemporary Soul Songbook 2

Phil Driver’s Soul Unsigned label’s done an awful lot in what seems a comparatively short space of time. Now established as a major player on the indie soul scene, the label’s managed to make some important points – chief amongst them, is to reassure us all that great soul music is still being made. Seek and ye shall find! Then – and in many ways, just as important – is the fact that Soul Unsigned has shown that 21st century soul is the broadest of churches and the music we love comes in many hues. The point, clearly underlined with this collection, is that we all should be broadminded enough to accept that soul comes in many different hues and though individually we might favour modern/Northern /Southern/nu/ old/ funky/jazzy/fast/slow or any other artificial classification of soul we all should recognize passion and commitment when we hear it – and there’s plenty of both throughout this collection. Yes Ms Monique’s sultry ‘Mr Do Right’ is very different to Erin Hunt’s loose ‘If You Believe In Me’ but both share the same basic musical DNA. The former, from 2006, is a classic of old school soul… steamy and right to the point; the latter, recorded in Canada, is jazzy affair with a light Latin undertow. Both are great cuts though each offering something a little different and that’s the collection’s strong point – real variety. ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’ from Philly veteran Marilyn Ashford Brown has already proved a good dancer and steppers will delight in Cornelius MD’s ‘Step Baby’ – that is if they can just stop themselves making comparison with Barry White. Want something a little more down tempo? Well, I’m confident that Extra Rich In Class’s ‘Queen’, Uncle Myke’s ‘Something Different’, Da Wonda Twinz’s ‘Wishing’ or Orly’s ‘Sit Back’ will satisfy. Then, for those who like things a little jazzier there’s Asanda Bam’s ‘Brand New Day’ and the Four Goes with ‘Secret Box’ That band are Italian but perform in English, though Gemma Genazzano gets to sing (partly, at least,) in Spanish – but what a tight groove she and producer Marlon Saunders concoct. Add to all that cuts from Inobe, Thomas Hunter, Leon Beal, Governor and Venue Connection and you have a properly varied menu – but what brings the unity and coherence is what we talked about when we came in thirty or so lines ago – an all-round soulful commitment from artists creating new music.
(BB) 4/5