Various Artists - The 2011 (Summer) Session (2011)

Various Artists

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It took its time coming, but Soul Unsigned Records newest compilation hit the streets in time for Summer.  As always, picking from a crop of unsigned artists from across the globe, this compilation gives a platform for their music to shine and be showcased in the club, bar, on the radio or your stereo.  The 2011 (Summer) Session draws inspiration from house, jazz/funk, 80s groove, and a large dash of soul/disco- but is it the perfect blend for Summer?

It took its time coming, but Soul Unsigned Records newest compilation hit the streets in time for Summer.  As always, picking from a crop of unsigned artists from across the globe, this compilation gives a platform for their music to shine and be showcased in the club, bar, on the radio or your stereo.  The 2011 (Summer) Session draws inspiration from house, jazz/funk, 80s groove, and a large dash of soul/disco- but is it the perfect blend for Summer?

The compilation opens big with “Boogieland” by Moonshoes, described in the liner notes as New French Sound of Blue Eyed Soul.” It’s a full-on track of keyboards, disco riffs, horns and talk box vocals, all in a heady mix of a song about the magical world of boogieland.  To be honest, I was slightly overwhelmed trying to take it all in at times, but if there was a song to kick open the door of the compilation it would be this one.  From here the CD moves through the aforementioned genres, and what I particularly liked about this compilation was that there were a fair amount of tracks in each category.  For the Jamiroquai funk lovers, “Move Into My Groove” by Soul Contiuum and “With Time” by Katzuma are two tracks that will definitely impress.  The latter is an instrumental funky track that for me moved the compilation up a gear.   The lovers of 80s groove are represented by Enois Scroggins “You Saved Me” and E.R.I.C.’s “Betcha Didn’t Know.”  The former, a gospel track, allows Enois to enthuse about the Lord over tight 80s beats, but the Alexander O’Neal-like vocals on the latter excited me more, in its ability to present raw masculinity and vulnerability at the same time.  For lovers of house/soulful house music, “Sunshine” by LoveSounD featuring Charlene Graham led the way for his depth and deliciousness, followed by other artists like 6am, Kyra Simone and LeNora Jaye. 

On any other compilation “Classy” by Jameil Rossey featuring Charles Lane would be my standout track.  Lane’s rap is full of swagger and young bravado, as he says he’s “smoove with ‘V’ and kool with a ‘K’.”  The production is tight, with the right amount of soul, jazz and charm; it has radio airplay written all over it. However it’s the track that follows it that blew me away: “Nairobi” by Maestro Garofalo is pure instrumental gold.  Its fast from the offset, opening with guitar licks worthy of George Benson, before the other instruments, vocal chants, and intricate melodies enter; this track is seriously smack-your-mother good! It’s followed closely by the truly delightful “Take Your Heart” by Katie Cole, who on this compilation is remixed by Astral 22.   The gentle groove and percussion are a perfect blend for Cole’s vocal and makes this track the perfect summer musical cocktail. 

If you have read SoulTracks’ reviews about the previous compilations from this label, you’d note that at times it has not been easy to see the thread which holds the tracks together, and in some cases song selections have been questioned.  The 2011 (Summer) Session has succeeded in changing this around, and every track has a logical place on the album.  It appears that some thought was taken in deciding the vibes to be created on this compilation,  and the thread has then been closely adhered to throughout.  What I also liked was that similar styled tracks were placed close together to keep the vibe going, whereas on prior collections they seemed more randomly placed, which often left the listener jarred and not able to fully appreciate the CD.  On this compilation whilst I may not have loved every single track, I was still able to see how it fit into the fabric of the album, which in essence is what every good compilation should be.  I know the perfectionist in Phil Driver will cause him to strive to make the perfect compilation, but in the meantime this is very good effort. Highly recommended.

By Ricardito.

 

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