Various Artists - The Contemporary Soul Songbook, Vol. 3

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    It is usually a delight to listen to an album from Soul Unsigned Records, one of the few record labels flying the flag for the unsigned talent around the world.  The focus of this particular series of albums from the label is to present a more soulful catalogue of songs, so you will not find any funky beats, house tinged tracks, or anything disco inspired.  Instead you fill find more mid-tempo songs, sometimes jazzy, sometimes gentle and light, and at times - dare I say it - remarkable.

    Admittedly I was not blown away by the all vocal talents on every song on The Contemporary Soul Songbook 3; however I was easily able to find something soulful on each track.  Whilst soul can be found in many types of music, there are more jazz leanings on this album, either in the vocal style, bassline, or arrangements -- though I would not for a moment say this a jazz album; if anything those leanings made it even more enjoyable to listen to.  "Can't Do Without You" by Nate White could easily sit on a smooth jazz chart, and there was something reminiscent of Sade's ‘Cherish The Day" about it, until the vocalists Razzberry and Inisha Clark started singing, and showed why the song deserved to be on this album.  Just as jazzy, yet with completely different styles, were  "Deja View" by Me'Na and "Love Surreal" by The Neo-Jazz Project. 

    Indeed I struggled to find just one standout track on this album, such was the strong and diverse quality of tracks.  "No Fantasy" by Pvibez featuring Dee Freer was indeed a musical fantasy of different instruments layered against beautiful vocals, and the album closer, "Rhythm Of Life," delivered over 4 minutes of performed Brazilian delight performed by an Italian group.  Yet still I was just as moved by the contemporary gospel track "Serenity" by Kenny Wesley, a groove and sound I am sure the Lord would approve of.  Then I was seduced by the slow, sensual, jazz tinged "A Good Thing" by Brandon Woods featuring Eldon "T" Jones. And then there was a final contender in the shape of Charlie Brown, with his stirring vocals track "Hell On My Hands," a tale of the result of falling for the temptations of a woman. Each of these tracks is deserving of its own paragraph about what I liked about it, and how it is right that it is on this album.

    Maybe I have finally figured out the type of album Phil Driver of Soul Unsigned Records is trying to produce, or maybe the choice of songs he had to choose from was larger this time around.  Either way The Contemporary Soul Songbook 3 delivers what it promises on the packet, Soul Unsigned Records has produced another album that I can highly recommend.  Upon listening to the last track on the album I felt truly satisfied that I had heard some of the best contemporary soul music out there. 

    By Ricardito