June 15, 2019 – As the mid-point of 2019 rapidly approaches, it seems like a good time to revisit the year in soul/R&B thus far. And what a delightful first six months it’s been! Terrific new albums from SoulTracks mainstays Rahsaan Patterson, Tony Momrelle and Leela James, a stellar debut from the gifted Lucky Daye, and a plethora of great tracks from a wide spectrum of artists. Perhaps the most pleasing aspect has been the continued creative development of the new generation of soul/R&B artists – Khalid, H.E.R., Summer Walker, Kiana Lede, and others – who are carving their own distinctive soundscapes and are taking the genre in exciting directions.
I’ve curated below a Spotify playlist that features, to my ear, the most compelling new releases of ’19 so far. Several have previously been featured here in First Listens and/or on the Fresh Soul playlist, some are more properly characterized as alt-soul or are close relatives that inhabit another groove, and all I hope will be pleasing to your ears. Only Lucky Daye has 2 tracks on the playlist -- his is, in my view, the best album of ‘19 released to date – and the tracks do not appear in “rank order.” That said, if I could take only one of these tracks to a desert island, my choice would be Tahira Memory’s “All The While.” It’s a soft, warm blanket of a song in which you’ll want to stay wrapped. Enjoy.
By Robb Patryk