Here is a long awaited entry from Colette. Personally, I think Soul is alive and well in the good, ole U. S. of A. Of course, if you are a creature of terrestial radio, you’re not going to hear it. That’s why the interwebs are so important. I have some additional thoughts on “the new radio”, but I’ll save that for later. For now, enjoy Colette’s Soul buffet:
Listening Party: Hot Buttered American Soul Singers 2009
As young Brits like Duffy and Amy Winehouse and Adele rack up big record sales and Grammy Awards, I’ve been wondering what’s up with our homegrown soul singers. I’m not talking about that heavily processed dance-beat monotony mulch that is sometimes called Neo-Soul, no no no. I’m talking bluesy voices, rugged and smoother, that are bringing the Motown/Stax/Philly sound of yore back with a new twist.
What do you think? Do they have the right stuff?
You’ll note that quite a few of these performances are from the terrific British music TV show Live with Jools Holland. Holland is a good piano player and an excellent scout for cutting-edge talent — all the great young Brit acts have appeared on his program, and a lot of American artists (young & older) too. I’m jealous: why can’t we have a show like his? A new “Soul Train”?
Someday, in my dreams. In the meantime, here a few I like, and wonder what your take is:
Rafael Saadiq isn’t exactly a new artist — he was one of the members of the top New Jack Swing group (ok, anyone recall what New Jack Swing was??) called Tony! Toni! Tone! And he’s been through several musical phases. Now he’s done a very, very cool maneuver, his own version of Temptation-esque retro-soul, smooth as silk. (He’s also Joss Stone’s boyfriend, but don’t hold that against either of them….) Love this hot, hot appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s TV show last month:
– Rafael Saadiq, “The Hundred Yard Dash”
And one of the best songs on his recent disc:
— Rafael Saadiq, “Love That Girl”
Someone here recently put up a link for Melody Gardot. Is she jazz? Pop? Soul? Who cares? This young woman, disabled since a car crash, has just a classic, achy-breaky voice steeped in cool. Am loving her — she deserves a big future:
— Melody Gardot, “Worrisome Heart”
Sugarush Beat Company is an interesting group with a cool Stax-y vibe in their tune “L-O-V-E.” They released their first album last September. And they’re multinational, with members hailing from the US, Denmark and Britain. Here they are on Jools’ show recently:
— Sugarush beat company, “L.O.V.E.”
Here’s the wildcat kid from Massachusetts (previously featured by Music Maven), who is tearing it up in Europe, but pretty obscure in the U.S. He plays a mean guitar, and is a wail of a singer, Eli “Paperboy” Reed — love the moniker! And he reminds a little of a male Janis Joplin:
== Eli Paperboy Reed & The True Loves, “Everywhere You Go”
Ruby Turner had some shlocky pop hits in the late 1980s, but her purified blues-soul approach today is kickin.’ Here she is with Jools Holland recently, on a swinging tune they recorded together (check out the female alto sax’s solo!):
— Ruby Turner, “The Informer” (with Jools Holland)
One of my favorite American Idol contestants, really too good to win!, is Melinda Doolittle. She came out with a very fine first album, “Coming Back to You,” and the Idol franchise could help her enormously if they just gave her a guest spot this season! But nooooo, they have to give the spotlight to the far, far inferior Kellie Pickler! Drat….but I really encourage you to support Melinda’s career — she’s worthy indeed. Here is her great opening salvo on American Idol 2007:
— Melinda Doolittle, “Since You Been Gone”
And here’s her first single from the new album:
— Melinda Doolittle, “It’s Your Love”
I also can’t give up on Taylor Hicks. As Music Maven has duly noted, he has a new album out and while it’s not the soulful stuff of my dreams, its closer to the bone than Taylor’s misbegotten first post-Idol disc. As usual, it’s always best to hear him entertain live. Here’s a clip from a recent appearance on “Regis and Kelly”:
–“What’s Right Is Right”, Taylor Hicks
I adore Ryan Shaw, and I just wish he would get a boost because he’s HOT. He did have a Grammy nomination recently, but not enough people know about this sweet Southern guy, and his superior soul pipes. Here he is live on the BET network:
— Ryan Shaw, “I’m Your Man”
If I can get one other person excited about Tyrone Wells, I’ll be happy. This Washington State native has a rabidly loyal semi-underground following, and he’s just terrific live. Good songwriter and guitarist, and great singer, and just put out a new album, “Remain.” Here he is with one of my fave tunes of his:
— Tyrone Wells, “Baby Don’t You Change”
Some soulful artists really deserve an encore, and jazzy singer Randy Crawford is back with a cover of a terrific old Staple Singers tune that’s getting a lot of airplay on some FM stations. Here she is on French TV — you can catch glimpses of British soulster James Morrison, really diggin on Randy and the wonderful jazz pianist Joe Semple. Their new album together is a grand groove — sorry the clip is a little out of sync — but it sounds great!
— randy crawford & joe semple, “Respect Yourself”
LeRoy Bell, whose folky-soul is very popular in the Pacific NW, and really deserving of more attention. (His uncle, by the way, is the great Thom Bell, co-architect of the 1970s Philly Sound of Lionel Ritchie, etc.) This is from his last album, released in 2008:
— LeRoy Bell, “Fly on the Wall”
I gotta end with the hardest working soul singer in show biz, Sharon Jones. With her fab young band the Dap Kings (who appeared on Amy Winehouse’s record) she’s keeping the funk flame burning — what a scorcher! Seeing her live is being sent into a time capsule right back to early Tina-land. Here she is on French TV, tearin’ it up as per usual:
— Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Thanks, Colette. Great list, but I HAVE to include my boy, Marc Broussard. Marc was at the forefront of the recent soul revival and besides, he’s a child of God’s Country.
Let Me Leave, Marc Broussard