Robb’s Picks: The Best of 2021 (So Far)

Album cover collage courtesy of Spotify

June 12, 2021 — Somehow, remarkably, it’s already June. Many of us are now “vaxed,” the summer approaches, and thankfully the pandemic has not dampened the creative spirits of the soul artists whom we so enjoy. The first six months have resulted in a plethora of compelling new songs, and I’ve assembled here my 4th annual Spotify playlist of the best of them “so far.”

Those who regularly check this site will recognize some tracks from First Listen or other articles, while others are somewhat obvious choices and, to my ear, indisputable; is there anyone who really doesn’t rank Bruno Mars’s vocal performance on “Leave the Door Open” as one of the year’s finest? 90 percent of the playlist is in the sweet spot of R&B/soul, with the balance from artists who brush up against that genre but travel decidedly in another groove.

June 12, 2021 — Somehow, remarkably, it’s already June. Many of us are now “vaxed,” the summer approaches, and thankfully the pandemic has not dampened the creative spirits of the soul artists whom we so enjoy. The first six months have resulted in a plethora of compelling new songs, and I’ve assembled here my 4th annual Spotify playlist of the best of them “so far.”

Those who regularly check this site will recognize some tracks from First Listen or other articles, while others are somewhat obvious choices and, to my ear, indisputable; is there anyone who really doesn’t rank Bruno Mars’s vocal performance on “Leave the Door Open” as one of the year’s finest? 90 percent of the playlist is in the sweet spot of R&B/soul, with the balance from artists who brush up against that genre but travel decidedly in another groove.

Especially notable is the appearance twice on the playlist by Lucky Daye, who has quickly become everyone’s favorite duet partner, and the UK soulstress Celeste, who released an especially fine debut album, Not Your Muse, earlier this year. The songs are not ranked or placed in any particular order, but I’ve admittedly had a jones lately for nylon-stringed, LatinX rhythms, and therefore would be hard pressed not to take MP3’s of Kelly Rowland’s “Speed of Love” and newcomer Yendry’s “Se Acabó” along with me if suddenly forced to decamp to a desert island without wi-fi access. I hope you’ll find some of your own favorites here as well as discover a few new tracks that you missed. Enjoy.

By Robb Patryk 

Robb is a music lawyer and the originator of our Flashback Soul, Another Groove, and 10 Gems series. Follow his music recommendations on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RwpSun 

 

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