Various Artists - Soul Unsigned The 2010 [Summer] Session

Various Artists
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DJ Mike Thompson is the second guest DJ to save our lives in the Soul Unsigned Records series.  Some of you may remember Jump Start Music, the first in the series, which came out earlier this year, full of house, jazz, latin and funk grooves; I described it as the soundtrack to your Saturday morning.  The 2010 [Summer] Session I would describe as the soundtrack to your Saturday night as you make your way to the bar or nightclub.  I know that there are many of you out there who remember going to clubs and parties and dancing all night long to artists like Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, Jamiroquai, David Morales, Incognito, Taylor Dane, Luther Vandross, DJ Spiller and Janet Jackson.  We had moved past the Jheri Curl and shoulder pads of the 80s, and the 90s grunge angst and melancholy could not bring us down at the weekend that we all lived for.   Songs had lyrics that had meaning, a groove, sometimes instruments, sometimes updated sam

DJ Mike Thompson is the second guest DJ to save our lives in the Soul Unsigned Records series.  Some of you may remember Jump Start Music, the first in the series, which came out earlier this year, full of house, jazz, latin and funk grooves; I described it as the soundtrack to your Saturday morning.  The 2010 [Summer] Session I would describe as the soundtrack to your Saturday night as you make your way to the bar or nightclub.  I know that there are many of you out there who remember going to clubs and parties and dancing all night long to artists like Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, Jamiroquai, David Morales, Incognito, Taylor Dane, Luther Vandross, DJ Spiller and Janet Jackson.  We had moved past the Jheri Curl and shoulder pads of the 80s, and the 90s grunge angst and melancholy could not bring us down at the weekend that we all lived for.   Songs had lyrics that had meaning, a groove, sometimes instruments, sometimes updated samples from yesteryear -- but whatever it was we were feeling it. This compilation attempts to show us that that kind of music is still out there if we search hard for it.  

Here in Europe summer usually marks the season of sun worshipping, Euro pop, and partying all night. For those into seeking something soulful and meaningful, Leyo's "Barcelona Boogie" is the perfect track.  It's so easy to imagine hearing this over loud speakers as you make your moves on the dancefloor.  This compilation opener is definitely a standout track -- my personal favourite -- and forces you to have a good time.  The bass line is not overdone, vocals are not strained, and percussions merge nicely with the groove over a song about a girl checking this guy.  If this is what a summer session is meant to be about then it would appear that this song hits the spot.  "Boogie" by Uptown Funk Empire, "Você Me Dá" by Clarisse Al brecht, "Don't Stop" by Kwality Kontrol featuring Al ana Bridgewater are also outstanding tracks which continue that summer feeling, where everything is relaxed, there is heat in the air, and you feel inspired and happy.

However at times this feeling is lost, just like when a DJ suddenly puts on country song in the middle of a hip hop event.  There is always the danger with any compilation that you will lose your listeners at some point, and unfortunately for DJ Mike Thompson he did this not because the tracks were not of a high calibre, but because his sequencing of tempos and grooves is not clear.  This is not meant to be a ‘dance' album and does not profess to be one; if you wanted that then an Armand Van Helden or Cassius album would be a better choice.  What you get here are some faster more danceable tracks like those mentioned above, which get you moving feeling light and liberated, interrupted by a heavy more r&b oriented track like Duane Williams' "Yes My Love Is Real," then back to a danceable track.  Unfortunately this happens on more than one occasion, which gives the overall album a feeling of inconsistency.  If he had placed similar songs together for me this album would have worked better. 

That issue aside, this compilation successfully pulls together both soulful and danceable music from across the globe; Canada , Germany , Denmark , New Zealand , and the UK amongst the countries represented.  There are also some returns of artists from the previous Soul Unsigned series like Cool Million and Judderbass.  FLOetic Lara, who was recently reviewed on SoulTracks, appears here with a new track "Under Love," which is both highly spirited and highly infectious. 

Does the compilation work? Yes. There is something for those who want to dance or hear something fast and full of groove, as well as something for those who want something more r&b/soul sounding.  What would have moved this album from being just recommended to being highly recommended is the sequencing of the tracks.   I definitely intend on having this album close to hand this summer, and recommend you do too.

By Ricardito

 

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