Various Artists - Soul Unsigned Volume 4 (2010)

Various Artists
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Time flies by quickly; we are already onto volume 4 in the Soul Unsigned series.  I remember listening to volume 1 and being pleasantly surprised by the collection of pretty good unsigned soul music.  Winter has gone and spring is in the air, and Soul Unsigned Volume 4 is what is needed to help continue the good times. 

Time flies by quickly; we are already onto volume 4 in the Soul Unsigned series.  I remember listening to volume 1 and being pleasantly surprised by the collection of pretty good unsigned soul music.  Winter has gone and spring is in the air, and Soul Unsigned Volume 4 is what is needed to help continue the good times. 

The volume opens with Peo featuring Mirjam on "It Must Be Love."  Mirjam's vocals are clear and sweet sounding; the perfect accompaniment to the soulful uplifting groove.  The tempo is slowed down slightly but laid back gentle vocals continue on "You Bring Change" by Low-D featuring Gary Poole.  Giving Peo and Mirjam a run for their money is another Swede, Paul Mac Innes, with the track "Sunshine".  The chorus sounds a little like "Blame it On The Boogie," as Innes sings about not wanting anything else but the love of his lady; she is his sunshine.  Sunshine and good times radiate from this track, and once again shows Sweden are exporting their finest.

The Doggett Brothers' "Azure Sky" picks up the pace with great horns and a tight drum beat.  Now some may disagree, but I actually believe that as an instrumental this track would have worked even better.  Not to detract from the charming female vocalist, but the live musicians behind her provide the real action on this track; check out the tempo change.  This flows nicely into Dreemtime's "Night & Day," which is sultry, jazzy, and seductive.  Vocalist Anise smoulders over the live instruments, as she sings about how she misses her man's love night and day. Taragirl's "Stop Holdin' On" is simply a delicious musical morsel.  Simple and melodic it is such a shame that songs like this would not do big things on the music charts.  I was surprised to learn that the song was 4 years old; it still sounds as fresh and delightful.  If I had to choose my favourite slow paced song on the CD this would be it. 

The second half this album picks up the pace again - a welcome change of tempo. Dwayne's "Feenin'" packs a lot into a short song: an infectious beat, effective change in tempo, a sexy punchy chorus, all on top of Dwayne's surprisingly mature vocals.  Now if like me every now and then you hanker for a taste of 80's Prince, then Saoul is your man.  His track "What's It Good For?" is able to capture some of the essence that Prince had in the mid 80s.  Synthesisers, guitar licks smoky vocals, over a club beat that never goes over the top.  Saoul may just be Romania's best kept secret after their football team.  When I heard the opening bars to "My World" I'll admit I was ready to hit the skip button, but thankfully I didn't because the 80s fun continues with this track.  The almost saxophone quality of Thia Jasmine's voice works well with the synthesised yet soulful track.  In fact if her vocal were replaced by a saxophone I believe it could be classified as a smooth jazz track too; how versatile would that be? 

As fun as this reminiscing was, my stand out track on this album took me even further back in time. FL Jones's "I Choose You" is the musical reincarnation of Studio 54 in the 70s.  Its gentle opening of lush strings leaves listeners unprepared for when the disco beat kicks in.  I am not afraid to confess that what started as a gentle head nod, moved to a shoulder shrug, and before long I was wiggling my butt so hard I even stunned myself; and that was before the second verse when the vocals talents of Leah Johnson make this track explosive.  My only criticism is that the track is too short; I'd like to officially ask for an extended version. 

Overall this is another good compilation of unsigned musical talents from around the world. On this collection Sweden, UK, Romania, Canada and USA are amongst the countries represented, and the soulful incarnations of jazz, dance, gospel, disco and 80s synths are thrown within to marinate.  There was a return by some artists who had featured on previous volumes, in each case showcasing a different style to their previous musical donation.  As always I enjoyed the album, however I felt that some of the freedom or risks that were on the previous collections were not seen here.  This collection seemed more controlled and moulded, with less risk taking and perhaps the hint of a formula, which I truly hope is not the case.  Just as I am excited when I read where some of the artists are from and am amazed at the soulful sound they are producing, so I want to be intrigued at the flow of an album.  Mr Driver, with every album I feel as if I get to know you more, which is part of what makes me so excited when I listen to a Soul Unsigned compilation. Let the music flow more freely, loosen the grip again and come back even harder with volume 5. 

By Ricardito

 

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