VARIOUS; Soul Togetherness 2012 (Expansion)

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Expansion’s annual ‘Togetherness’ soul fest is upon us once again and modern room junkies will be delighted that, as ever, compliers Ralph Tee and Richard Searling have left no stone unturned to put together another absolutely excellent collection. This year’s set, however, is a little different to earlier ‘Togetherness’ albums in a couple of ways. First the set boasts cuts from two huge US “names” – R Kelly and Anthony Hamilton. Usually ‘Togetherness’ focuses on lesser known artists … performers not quite in the mainstream but, hey, I guess no one will complain about Kelly and Hamilton ‘cos their included cuts have been modern room staples since their release. The Kelly cut is the superb ‘Share My Love’ while the Hamilton tune is the 2011’s broody, smouldering ‘Woo’. Both show that major label modern soul is alive and very well.

The second way in which this year’s ‘Togetherness’ album is a little different to previous collections is the inclusion of more than the usual number of jazz-tinged selections… probably reflecting the changing demographics of the modern room crowd. Here, for those who like their soul garnished with jazz there’s Sunlightsquare’s ‘Heart’s Desire’, Jazzanova’s ‘Let It Go’, Jarrard Anthony’s ‘I Love You’ (featuring Lonnie Liston Smith on keys), Bah Samba’s ‘Save Our Freedom’ and Gregory Porter’s biggie ‘1960 What?’ –here in the Opolopo Kick and Brass Rerub.

Those more sophisticated jazzy cuts are tempered with lots of traditional modern room fare from the likes of Cool Million (‘Running Around’), Soulpersona (‘You Did It Again’), AAries (‘Don’t Give Up’) and Maurissa Rose (‘Thinking About You’), while there’s plenty for the oldies crowd. Check out Big Brooklyn Red’s 2008 ‘Taking It Too Far’ and Kenny Thomas’ 2002 ‘Turn It Up’. The oldest track on offer is Lew Kirton’s 1986 outing ‘Don’t Wanna Wait’ and, you know, it doesn’t sound any way out of place alongside all the bright, new shiny stuff. Excellent!

(BB) 4/5