VARIOUS: Liberated Soul Independence (Music Connect)

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This great 16 track indie soul compilation crept out last year but with the big interest in Honey Larochelle (see our album review), the label are wisely re-promoting it. Rising star, Larochelle is featured here with her crisp, sunny beater ‘Be Your Baby’. It’s one of the highlights on her solo set and it stands out here too. A very contemporary sound, it sits right on the cusp of old school soul and upfront R&B. And really that’s the recipe for most of the material on offer here. Kendra Cash’s ‘Smile’ is another good example of the sound. The tune would go down well with old and new school soulies and check out the great jazz piano solo. Opaz’s ‘Mr Lost’ and Melodie Nicholson’s ‘Stay Gone’ offer more of the same.

Slakah The Beathchild’s ‘The Cure’ is more experimental – its roots firmly in neo-soul (think Anthony David) while for something really off the wall try Wildcookie’s ‘Serious Drug’ – a track that’s won lots of fans since its 2011 release on their ‘Cookie Dough’ long player. Darrius’ ‘Say All The Things’ is more straightforward – a lovely mid-tempo item, while best ballads are D Reed’s ‘One Chance’ and Noel Gourdin’s quiet stormer ‘Sex In The City’. Then as a bonus cut, the compilers have included Syleena Johnson’ smouldering version of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘The Makings Of You’ (dad Syl guests on it).

An interesting collection, this… proving that indie artists are still crafting proper soul music – and innovative soul too….not just the retro pastiches that are passed off as “modern” soul.

(BB) 3/5