So far it’s been a great year for UK modern soul specialists Expansion Records. They’ve issued some fine single artist sets (more to come by the way) and their regular soul compilations continue to set the standard. Luckily for modern soul connoisseurs, label boss Ralph Tee has chosen 2015 to add to his usual repertoire of compilations. Already this year we’ve had a new Expansion “brand”, ‘Soul Life’ and now we can enjoy another new compilation title ‘Soul Shine’… and, yes, we soul journalists are prone to exaggerate, but, believe me, this new 16 tracker is the best modern soul compilation I’ve heard in a good few years. It oozes class and sophistication (essential elements of modern soul) but the music’s never bland or lightweight. Each track offers commitment, passion and a high soul quotient best illustrated by the lovely ‘Repertoire’ from James Day. With a vocal from Tony Terry, the cut sums up everything that’s uplifting about modern soul music.
There’s more of that feel good factor on Sheree Brown’s ‘All Your Love’. A collaboration with the Soul Talk crew, this previously unreleased tune is already massive on the modern soul scene and rightly so. In truth, though, every track has the same potential and with so many highlights it’s hard to cherry pick… but try Leon Timbo’s ‘You’re My Darling’ (a great little groove that may remind you of those Jon B tunes from a while back); guitarist Tony Remy’s Tony Momrelle vocalised ‘Lighthouse’ (a jazzy, Benson-esque tune); or Victor Fields’ Lou Rawls tribute ‘Let Me Be Good To You’ (the Oakland based singer helps you remember the magic of vintage Philly).
Interestingly three of the set’s tracks were sourced from another UK label currently enjoying a high profile with soul connoisseurs… DSG Records. Tunes in question are Samuel D Sanders’ Philly flavoured ‘Make You Mine’, Neo’s Barry White influenced ‘Your Smile’ and the wonderful Nigel Lowis remix of Ola Onabule’s ‘Soul Town’ – one of 2015’s biggest anthems so far. Of course, you’ll know and love it by now; indeed you may well know many of the tunes here but when presented like this (en masse, as it were) it makes you realise that when it comes to life affirming music, quality modern soul is unbeatable! Shine on!