VARIOUS: Feel Good (House of Valerie Joan)

Over the last decade or so Australia has made a name for itself as burgeoning soul hotbed. Bands and artists like Kylie Auldist, Lance Ferguson, The Bamboos, Cookin’ On Three Burners, the Teskey Brothers, Confection, Dojo Cuts, the Regime and Chelsea Wilson have all flown the Aussie soul flag high and proud!

The above Ms Wilson, a self-confessed “music multi tasker vocalist, songwriter, DJ, event producer, festival director, board director and broadcaster” is the brains behind a wonderful new soul compilation from the Land Down Under  and it’s a collection with a very specific focus. We’re told that during the lockdowns Chelsea kept herself busy writing and producing music which became the bed rock of this album… ‘Women of Soul’. The name tells you all about the “specific focus”. Chelsea believes that the 14 tracker is the first album in Australia to be produced by all-femme creatives – the album was entirely composed, recorded, mastered, performed and produced by over 25 women and female-identifying crew!

Amongst the featured artists are Chelsea Wilson herself, Stella Angelico, Monique DiMattia, Candice Monique, Carla Troiano and Vanessa Fernandez but perhaps the most famous name is Kylie Auldist. Ms A proffers two tracks – ‘Feel Good’ and ‘Happy’. The former is a funky meander with a Bill Withers sort of vibe and ‘Happy’which is an absolutely gorgeous, brassy, mid-tempo dreamy affair. It’s one of the LP’s veritable highlights!

Amongst the other “starred” cuts is the opening track, ‘Celebrate’. On this one Chelsea Wilson’s out front and as the song title implies this is a proper disco delight  – a call to action, to celebrate music and life. It owes a lot to plenty of familiar disco classics but you can’t really pinpoint ‘em. Then there’s  ‘I Am Enough’ from Candice Monique. Here both the music and the message of self-improvement will remind you of India. Arie’s ‘Video’.

If you like emotional, Southern flavoured soul  ballads then Carla Troiana’s ‘Not Ready To Say Goodbye’ will hit the spot (it’s another album standout) while  the same singer’s ‘I’m On It’ is a crisp beater – adding to the variety across the set’s 14 tracks.

And that’s just one of the reasons why this album comes with our recommendation n. Not only does it feature plenty of excellence (‘Happy’ and ‘Not Ready To Say Goodbye’ for starters) but there is soul  variety a-plenty. For instance, Raleigh Williams’ piano ballad, ‘Every Drop’ and Fem Belling’s ‘In The Pixels’ are as different as they  could be to the aforementioned ‘Happy’ and ‘Not Ready To Say Goodbye’ but they both have considerable charm of their own.

‘Feel Good’ is out now via Chelsea Wilson’s own House Of Valerie Joan label (named after her late grandmothers Valerie Wilson and Joan Pearman) and like we said comes recommended!

(BB) 4/5