Various Artists - Soul Unsigned Vol. 2 (2009)

Various Artists
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Back in September 2008 following the release of Soul Unsigned Volume 1, I told Phil Driver, the owner of Soul Unsigned Records, that he needed to get back into the kitchen to cook up the next batch of musical morsels. I am very, very happy to say that Mr Driver has delivered another amazing batch of delicious tracks for your listening pleasure, taking cuts from independent or unsigned artists from around the world. This album reminds you of what good music is, and renews my faith that there is still quality music out there. Fellow music lovers, you can't afford to let this disc pass you by, buy it now. 14 tracks, 14 different sounds, 14 artists that vie for your attention musically; this CD does not disappoint.

Back in September 2008 following the release of Soul Unsigned Volume 1, I told Phil Driver, the owner of Soul Unsigned Records, that he needed to get back into the kitchen to cook up the next batch of musical morsels. I am very, very happy to say that Mr Driver has delivered another amazing batch of delicious tracks for your listening pleasure, taking cuts from independent or unsigned artists from around the world. This album reminds you of what good music is, and renews my faith that there is still quality music out there. Fellow music lovers, you can't afford to let this disc pass you by, buy it now. 14 tracks, 14 different sounds, 14 artists that vie for your attention musically; this CD does not disappoint.

"Natural" by South Africa's Nash Reed kicks off the CD with a funky groove and sweet vocals about doing what comes natural and feels good, i.e. dancing. There are some 80s soul claps thrown in too to make this track really make you want to get on the dance floor. It is followed swiftly by "Don't Take Me For Granted" from UK talent G.L.O, which again features sweet melodic vocals over a bass line that harkens to the days of Nile Rodgers. From there we hear music from Norway, Tampa Bay, Spain, Rhode Island, France and Phoenix.

Highlights on this CD are "Stepping Out," a very polished and classy track handled with the vocal finesse of Maxi. It has all the right ingredients, and is a gentle track that does not try too hard. "Keep the Funk Alive" by Calumet reminds the listener about the virtues of funk music. The lead singer has a vocal that reminds me of Jamiroquai, but don't that is where the comparisons between the two would end in this nice uplifting track. A delightful masterpiece for the ears is the closing track "Club 44" by Frank Felix & The F.U. Express. It starts with a dance beat from the mid 90s before the instruments kick in and take you to sounds reminiscent of Roy Ayers and Grover Washington Jr. Over 6 minutes in length, the track is a medley of instruments over a dance groove. The stand out track for me, however, moved away from all the funk on this album and was the stripped down, slow and beautiful "Breakthru" by J-Funk. Stopped in my tracks by the soulful voice of London based Australian musician, there was so much emotion and tenderness in this track about the feelings he has for this beautiful woman he knows, I had this track on repeat. "True Love" by Muthafunk and "Everybody Knows" by Judderbass Ft. Joanna Brown were tracks that anyone who likes listening to live soul/funk bands would be hard not to appreciate. "Madrid Boogie" is an acid jazz trip that I really liked by Spanish group Venueconnection. Cultural, vibrant, exciting are words I'd use to describe Madrid, but following this track I figure we also need to consider funked-up too. If you have always wondered what Aaron Neville would sound like over a hard 80s Alexander O'Neal or Colonel Abrams beat then you have to check out "When Are You Gonna" by Kevin East. This is a remix of his original track, but nonetheless a track to hit the dance floor to. Finally, "Dig It" by Sean Miranda may be something that urban/r&b lovers will appreciate. Exquisite multi-layered soulful vocals it is clear to see which artists have inspired him: he could easily sing alongside Maxwell, Kenny Lattimore or Chico DeBarge. The song is about what he is willing to do for the woman he loves, and in truth it's hard to fault this track. However on this collection it was placed next to J-Funk; I know which one moved me.

Overall Soul Unsigned Volume 2 is another jam packed CD of really good music. I do not envy Mr Driver having to choose which tracks from these talented artists he is going to put on the CD and which he would not. I wonder if Mr Driver selects the best tracks of the best artists for his CD or whether it's a teaser of even juicer morsels that we'd discover when we check out more tracks from the artists? Perhaps you'll answer us, Mr. Driver, when you serve up the next batch of Soul Unsigned.

By Ricardito

 
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