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The Contemporary Soul Songbook Volume 2
UK Soul Unsigned Records CD, 2010

1) Marilyn Ashford Brown: I've Got a Feeling 2) Inobe: Front Porch 3) Ms. Monique: Ms. Do Right 4) Thomas Hunter: Strong Love 5) Cornelius MD: Step Baby 6) Leon Beal: Good Love 7) Governor: Decisions 8) Extra Rich in Class Ft. Eric Harris: Queen 9) Uncle Myke: Somethinz Different 10) Da Wonda Twinc Ft. Redd Soul: Wishin' 11) Osly: Sit Back 12) Four Goes: Secret Box 13) Asanda Bam: Brand New Day 14) Gemma Genazzano: Take Me Away 15) Venueconnection: Walking Your Dream 16) Erin Hunt: If You Believe in Me

I reviewed Volume 1 of this series last autumn, and the second volume is yet another good value-for-money collection of recent independent soul tunes. I really appreciate that the album compiler Phil Driver does this hard job of going through a vast selection of indie soul releases and picks the gems from them. Anyone can go to and start listening to the indie releases, I have done that myself as well, and know that it's not an easy task to find the quality tracks among the hundreds of releases.

This time we have no less than 16 tracks on the compilation, and only three of them were previously familiar to me. Cornelius MD's Step Baby is the self-evident choice here, since it's one of the best tracks I've heard from the indie soul scene in the last couple of years; the track is a magical two-stepper with Impromp2-style wah-wah-guitar and muted trumpet, over which Cornelius delivers his solid, Barry White-influenced vocals. Wonderful stuff and certainly deserves its place on this collection.

The opening track I've Got a Feeling also spent several weeks on our Quality Time Cream Cuts chart, being an instantly captivating uptempo tune with a strong melody and powerful vocals by Marilyn Ashford Brown. It is followed by another ultra-catchy uptempo mover, Front Porch by neo-soul songsterss Inobe.

Ms. Monique has also been introduced in our magazine previously, first in Heikki Suosalo's Deep column, and later in our Quality Time column in 2008. Mr. Do Right continues the tradition of Millie Jackson and Betty Wright, but some of Ms. Monique's tracks have also appealed to those neo-soul fans who have enjoyed the most soulful tracks by Jill Scott or Terisa Griffin. This track is from 2005, and we're all eagerly waiting for new material from Ms. Monique.

Thomas Hunter's Strong Love also has a strong traditional Southern soul flavour brought to the modern sounds, in much the same vein as Anthony Hamilton's best tunes.

The rest of the album contains tunes from artists whose music I had never heard before (although Barry Towler has reviewed some of their albums), but it's really amazing how the overall quality stays throughout the album. I was especially impressed by the husky male vocals by Leon Beal (I have to track down his albums Romantic Groove and Keep on Pushing), and I also greatly enjoyed the Incognito-ish groove of Venueconnection on Walking Your Dream.

Last but not least, two tracks succesfully combine Latin and soul music: Gemma Genazzano's Take Me Away and Erin Hunt's If You Believe in Me. Take a look at Gemma's gorgeous website:!.

(Rating 8/10) -IT

Gemma Genazzano - cited as Jazzy Latin Soul Goddess on her website!

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