Various Artists - Soul Love 2014

Various Artists
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Soul Love 2014 isthe latest compendium from UK record label, Reel People Music, a 25 track digital release featuring an array of embryonic soul stars. Despite sounding a somewhat discontinuous affair, there is much to enjoy. Alongside the more familiar names (including UK stalwarts Omar and former Soul II Soul singer Carolyn Wheeler), this much vaunted release boasts performances from around the world, showcasing soul music’s broad church. As with most churches if course, there will always be singers who stand head and shoulders above others, and it's the ladies--well represented here, that hold up the foundations of Soul Love.

Soul Love 2014 isthe latest compendium from UK record label, Reel People Music, a 25 track digital release featuring an array of embryonic soul stars. Despite sounding a somewhat discontinuous affair, there is much to enjoy. Alongside the more familiar names (including UK stalwarts Omar and former Soul II Soul singer Carolyn Wheeler), this much vaunted release boasts performances from around the world, showcasing soul music’s broad church. As with most churches if course, there will always be singers who stand head and shoulders above others, and it's the ladies--well represented here, that hold up the foundations of Soul Love.

Listeners wanting a touch of unabashed and feisty female soul should then tap forward to the Transatlantic collaboration between former Missy Elliot protege Nicole Wray and South-Londoner Terri Walker, who provide one of the collection’s standout tracks. A rollicking slice of retro-soul, "Money" is a delicious and sassy tale of a financially independent woman hip to the game of her gold-digging paramour: its rustic, Ska-like horns and cascading piano blending together to create the perfect sixties pop-soul confection and one truly deserving anthemic status. On the other-side of love’s spinning coin is the plush and lustrous "Don't Give It Up," courtesy of twin sister duo AAries. Sashaying their way through a captivating and seamless production of feathered vocals and perfume-drenched horns, the Philadelphians conjure the magical lushness of an early Michael Jackson solo and all the sultriness of eighties Motown chanteuse Stacy Lattisaw.

Elsewhere, emerging Brit singer-songwriter Louise Golbey evokes a cool jazzy swagger with the delightful "Comfortable," sounding far-less erratic, and vocally more mature than Joss Stone for whom she bears an uncanny resemblance. And beguiling Californian Suplacio Jones readily flaunts her Soul/ Hip-hop influences over the squelching and shifting muddy funk of "Risky."

The male perspective of Soul Love is also deftly displayed, even if some seem rather more expendable than others. Baltimore Native Marc Evans serves up the frantic and sonic boogie of "Supernatural," sharing penmanship with English house music maestro Dave Lee-aka Joey Negro. Evans’ masculine and smokey baritone - reminiscent of long forgotten Brit eighties soul singer Clive Griffin - growls effectively over stabbing horns in an all encompassing tour-de-force work-out that never lets up.

In total contrast is creamy-voiced tenor Tyrone Lee. Winning plaudits for his five year role in the West End concert production Thriller Live, Lee's breezy "Get 2 Know U" recalls eighties soul group The Dukes and their effervescent "Mystery Girl." In an all-too short intro and a flurry of testifying gospel organ, "Get 2 Know U" holds much promise but ultimately delivers little. Pleasant sounding enough, Lee's voice falls short of the vocal peaks and crescendos the song demands.

Among the international artists featured on Soul Love is South African outfit Muzart, who delight with the smart and clever "The Party After." But it's Scandinavian soul-hop trio Dolla Lova who jump up with the biggest surprise of all, especially considering the fact that they hail from the glacial locales of Helsinki. It seems near impossible that a Scandinavian act could flaunt its soul credentials so freely and authentically, but showcase they do. "Hopeless Dreamer" is an engaging and pulsating stab of Nu-soul dosed with a trippy cool and a smart sense of structure.

The undoubted star of Soul Love however, is Cameroon born, London-based Debra Debs. Winning many fans in the UK for her jazz-inspired Neo-soul and Afrocentric grooves, the persuasive and nocturnally sensual "Love Galore" is potent as it is glorious. Wrapping her evocative and lustful voice around a cooling piano, Ms. Debs dips and croons with a teasing wink, enveloped in idiosyncratic and tongue-twisting lyrics that are nothing short of sublime.

In their long quest to compile the ultimate in Modern Soul for 2014, and one that presumably sets out to distinguish itself from the current crop of compilations flooding the marketplace, the makers at Reel People Music can certainly be commended. But whether or not it’s the truest definition of modern soul yet, or simply an exhilarating global affair as it has been duly described, is almost irrelevant. It is a solid sampler of some of today’s rising soul artists that should please fans around the world.  Recommended

By Garry Moran

 

 
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