VARIOUS: Soul Seeds Volume 1 (Blacktree Music)

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Blacktree Music is the brain child of US music biz entrepreneur Rick Atari. He’s tasked himself with uncovering the best indie soul from all over the States and last year –working with MAPP productions (the outlet for producers Dee Majek and Pat Bedeau and responsible for uncovering Chanel’s biggie ‘My Life’) – he released an excellent compilation called ‘Six For Spins’. The same team are behind this brand new 16 tracker and the standard and quality is right up there with that last set. Not surprising really when you see that many of the artists here were featured on that album too. In essence, like ‘Six For Spins’ this newie is an undemanding, good time mix of enjoyable modern soul that will please the rug cutters and the quiet stormers.

Dancers will lap up stuff like Metropolis’ ‘One4 U’, Chanel’s ‘Love Affair’ (which cleverly samples Mtume’s ‘Juicy Fruit’) and Groove’s ‘The Weekend’ – simple and uncomplicated, it’s one those infuriatingly catchy “hit the club on Friday night tunes”. The best out-and-out modern soul dancer though is Jamal Skye’s ‘Superstar’… great tight beats, while for that big retro moment go to the vocoded electro tones of Tony Aero’s ‘Superhero’. For those who prefer down time try Takiya’s ‘Dedicate'(sampling ‘Betcha By Golly Wow’), Erica Paige’s more dramatic ‘Everything’ or the same singer’s cover of Sade’s ‘Love Is Stronger Than Pride’.

Complementing all that quite “straight” soul there are a few interesting oddities. Ashley Gun’s ‘Rushin” is a great mid-tempo soul groove, though lyrically it’s oddly old-fashioned. Here, for once, we get an R&B singer telling her lover to hold back – no rushing, no sex till… well, whatever. Then there’s Roxy 5000’s ‘I’m No Better’ – here the jangly guitars add a hue of indie pop to a decidedly soulful vocal. Strangest of all though is ‘Change My Mind’ from the intriguingly named Stone Cold Pack Of Weirdoes. This tune, with semi-spoken vocal, is a bumpy little ride with lyrics that are above average for an indie soul cut. Yes, don’t doubt that Soul Seeds is an album that really stands out from the indie soul pack…. seek it out @

(BB) 4/5