VARIOUS: The 2011 Summer Session (Soul Unsigned)

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Soul Unsigned’s latest collection sets out to offer us new soul sounds to accompany our summer… a soundtrack to the season, if you would… and label boss and compiler Phil Driver’s succeeded. The 14 tracker – sourced from all over the place – is all up-tempo, creating the perfect summer feeling and as with almost all Soul Unsigned compilations, there’s variety enough to satisfy right across the soul spectrum.

Things kick off with a slice of retro. Moonshoes’ ‘Boogieland’ is a Parisian take on disco – with full on vocoder effects; and if retro soul’s your thing, there are lots more. DJ/producer Max Sedgley offers an unashamed 80’s pastiche on ‘All Around Me’ (fab, soulful vocal from Tasita D’Mour), while E.R. I.C. takes a leaf out of Colonel Abrams’ book on his ‘Betcha Didn’t Know’. On Soul Continuum’s ‘Move Into My Groove’ the flavour’s all Jamiroquai and those of you familiar with Wadz can second guess what his Enois Scoggins-led ‘You Saved Me’ sounds like. If you want things pacier, more contemporary, housified even – then there’s plenty that will satisfy. 6AM’s ‘Taking Care’ and the funky, bass-led ‘Let’s Just Be Friends’ from Kyra Simone are near perfect soulful house confections. In between there’s Katie Cole’s ‘Back Into The Sun’, which oddly marries house rhythms with smooth jazz and that’s the attraction of the set. You can take nothing for granted. Why, there’s even a pair of instrumentals and we don’t hear too many of them on modern soul compilations do we? The two are Maestro Garofalo’s ‘Nairobi’ (proper jazz-funk) and Katzuma’s ‘With Time’ (maybe a tad too electro for soul connoisseurs).

So, if you’re an optimist – and are banking on a warm, laid back, cloudless summer that’s going to taken up with lazy days and Pimms but need a soundtrack – this compilation could be the one.

(BB) 4/5