Here we go again – the 2015 edition was reviewed on these pages on February 6th of last year, and the latest Luxury Soul compilation just came in. Another 3-CD box set with the finest quality indie soul, starting with The Sound Principle feat. Richard Anthony Davis and “Heartbreaking” (do I hear a Sharon Redd tinkling on this one?), a lively and deeply soulful opener that more or less defines the 35 tracks on offer, most of which have been released in the past year and a further 10 tracks slightly older.
A lot of catchy hooks here and deep vocals, like Gene-O and “Love In My Eyes” from his album of the same name and what sounds like an 80s production taken to the present. Same can be said of the synthesized vocals of “Love Crazy” by Chazz Mac. The 80s are alive and kicking – I have heard that on various releases of the past year and it all sounds good to me. Another good example are the stylish keyboard sounds combined with the Kem-like vocals of Daniel March and the extremely catchy hook with brilliant “ha-ha ha-ha” backing vocals – working to maximum effect.
Things get more housey on “Soon Ending Story” which features the sypmathetic voice of Mariama Ceesay on a Rob Hardt production which turns into a pretty little pop/soul ditty. I can’t get enough of the Dallas, Texas-born neo-soul bliss of Antwyn Jackson and his “Still…” from his debut “The Magnolia” album with its terse and sexy brass parts thrown in. And Noel Gourdin is back as duet partner on Latrese Bush‘s midtempo love letter “Because Of You”, gently swaying with charts potential. Keni Burke sends his reagrds on another very 80s sounding track, the cute “Diamonds” by Kejam which loses its appeal because of the frog-like vocals of Terry Harris.
Husband and wife team Stevo Théard from New Orleans and Ginger Murphy, a cellist from the Chicago area, known as Sun Soul Orchestra, come up with a Solar Records-sounding “Can’t Deny It” (reminding me of Shalamar circa 1981) with an irresistible groove and ultra cool trumpet. It’s one of those songs that just stay in your head for hours. There are the cool and understated vocals of Diane Marsh (“Promise”), another brilliantly jazzy, neo-soul groover by David Morin (“Heaven”), and a rather dull track from Zed Soul feat. Noel McKoy and Najee. And that only sums up CD 1!
CD number 2 starts off with a very Chic-sounding “Call On Me” by The R&R Orchestra, copying the best Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards elements without sounding like a rip-off. There are tracks by Tristan (a remix of “Keep On” from the “2nd Phase” album), Tony Momrelle (from his latest “Keep Pushing” album, reviewed on these pages as well), and Marc Staggers (the Luther Vandross classic “So Amazing” from Marc’s “Dream Catcher” album, also reviewed here earlier). Also some more pop-oriented stuff from James Day & Darren Polite feat. Cleveland Jones and a nice dancefloor-friendly remix beauty by Soul Talk of Dasha Logan‘s “Leave Your Man”. And the superb vocals of Incognito singer Katie Leone on “Yellow Flower”, a real soul gem from her “Prism Of Light” album. The Sensationelles is a new Ian Levine-produced Lisa Stansfield-ish vocal group and Matthew Winchester is leaning more toward modern R&B with “The Other Side”. The 2000 release “Treat You Right” by Ian Martin feat. Jill Zadeh still sounds fresh and soulful today, even though I’m not that big of a fan of Jill’s vocals.
Opening CD 3 is Sham De Ré feat. Xantoné Black with “Funky Maharaja”, a fair-enough, solid soul jumper which could be a bit longer. The second James Day track works much better, with its shuffling rhythm and sexy vocals courtesy of Trina Broussard. You can always rely on Paul Johnson and his golden hand working on deep soul cuts with a slightly housey touch, like on “The Road” here. We also get a couple of tracks from releases that I have reviewed here, like the Aaron Parnell Brown album “The Tin Man” and Tracy Hamlin‘s “No Limits” as well as a live version of Kashif‘s “Help Yourself To My Love”. We’re going back in time to 2004 and Damon Cooper and his breezily swinging track “Will You Be My Lady” and to 2000 for another Ian Martin and Jill Zadeh track. Tyrone Lee and Dunn Pearson’s Dunn Street round up another brilliant soul compilation which continues this highly anticipated compilation series of quality tracks.