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Soul music selection: 10 albums for 2020

BENZINE’s Soul music selection for 2020 includes The Devonns, The Brooks, Monophonics, Don Bryant, Swamp Dogg, The James Hunter Six, Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes, Kelly Finnigan, Lianne La Havas and SAULT.

The Devonns – The Devonns

The Devonns

This is a first album influenced by the Chicago soul scene of the 70’s that these 4 boys full of humility offer us. Chiselled and refined over 2 long years, these 10 pieces, both retro and contemporary, make the perfect bridge between the music of The Dramatics and the one at Raphael Saadiq. But be careful because under their false relaxed airs the songs of this album contain protest lyrics like the protest songs of Sam Cooke Where Marvin Gaye. The piece Blood Red Blues whose clip shows police violence is a very good example. (Record Kicks) – listening link

The Brooks – Any Day Now

The Brooks – Any Day Now

Dubbed “Canadian Funk’s Best Kept Secret”, The Brooks is a group of 8 friends for whom funk is above all a lifestyle. Their 3th album that can be described as an album of maturity is a joy of positive groove in which each member has decided to exploit their own influences for a result that goes through all the facets of soul music. With strings and brass Ray Charlesmore psychedelic way isaac hayes, there are also hints of acid-jazz and P-funk for a very modern and successful fusion of genres. An essential album to listen to in these gloomy times. (Underdog Records) – listening link

Monophonics – It’s Only Us

MONOPHONICS – It's only us

5 years that we waited for the successor of Sound of Sinning, and it was worth it. After having matured within personal projects, the members of the Californian combo of Psychedelic Soul come back more inspired than ever with an album with a demanding groove well in its time. The tracks follow one another, sometimes psychedelic, sometimes funky, percussion, guitar effects, brass and strings intertwining around the voice of a Kelly Finnigan always on top. It’s Only Us is a small wonder with sophisticated arrangements to be stored somewhere between the works of Curtis Mayfield and D’isaac hayes. (Colemine Records) – listening link

Don Bryant – You Make Me Feel

Don Bryant - You Make Me Feel

The Memphis Veteran Don Bryant releases sound 3th solo album in 51 years (the second in 3 years with the group The Bo Keys which gave him a new youth). The one who was in the shadow of the greats by writing them hits during the heyday of soul finally revealed himself to the general public in 2017 with the album Don’t Give Up On Love in which he sang about love, especially that for his wife of 50 years Ann Peebles for which he wrote the 1973 hit I Can’t Stand The Rain. Rebelotte in 2020 with the same winning formula, love, emotion, authenticity for timeless music. (Fat Possum Records) – listening link

Swamp Dogg – Sorry You Couldn’t Make It

SWAMP DOGG – Sorry You Couldn't Make It

Swamp Dogg known in town as Jerry Williams Jr. returns with an album recorded in Nashville, to the tunes of Country Soul with titles for the most part mid-tempo, very cushy, carried by the intact and at times overwhelming voice of this 77-year-old gentleman. A disc at dusk, capable of both moving you (Billy, A Goog Song, I Lay Awake…) and make you swing nicely (Family Bread, Goog better best…). A charming disc that will make your rocking chair move all by itself. (Joyful Noise) listening link

The James Hunter Six – Nick of Time

THE JAMES HUNTER SIX – Nick of Time

Everyone will agree that The James Hunter Six did not invent anything and that he is content to use recipes borrowed from Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, James Brown and other soul and label figures Motown. But he does it so well, with so much talent and warmth that we will ignore any comparison (quite useless) to appreciate this Nick of Time. Because no one else than him today can boast of composing soul rock rhythm’n’blues songs like 60 years ago with as much lightness and know-how. Pure “Feel good music” to enjoy at any time and mainly in the morning to start the day on the right track! (Daptone Records) – listening link

Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes – What Kinda Music

Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes – What Kinda Music

The strength of this disc lies in this confrontation of the very distinct universes of the two artists: The relevant, free and crazy ideas of Yusefinspired by his experimental background are balanced by the mastery and experience of a producer of tom, who has a keen sense of melodies and popular song formats. Through What Kinda Music we perceive both a great artistic freedom but also this joy that the two musicians had to create together something singular and which does not fit into any box, an album whose DNA is unique. (Blue Note) – listening link

Kelly Finnigan – A Joyful Sound

Kelly Finnigan – A Joyful Sound

The Californian singer on whom everything has been smiling for a few years, whether with his friends from The Monophonics or solo with his excellent first album The Tales People Tell released last year tries an old American tradition, the Christmas album. A not easy exercise on which numbers of vocalists have broken their teeth and which he nevertheless takes up in the best of ways, singing as he has always done, with authenticity. And as for a real Christmas party, he invited (prestigious) musician friends to bring their touch to the project for a real moment of love and conviviality. (Colemine Records) – listening link

Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas - Lianne La Havas

Album with a stripped appearance, whether in the title or the cover, this Lianne LaHavas Lp is however far from being a Lo-fi or minimalist disc. Quite the contrary. In a rather classic soul pop style, the author of Blood in 2015 succeeds a perfect seasonal album, at the same time light, melodious, warm. Without overdoing it, whether in terms of voice or production, the British singer reveals throughout the 12 titles offered a fairly wide musical register, even allowing herself an incursion into rock with cover of Radiohead with Weird Fishes / Arpeggi. One of the great successes of the moment in terms of soul. (Warner Records) – listening link

SAULT – UNTITLED (Black Is)

  SAULT - UNTITLED (Black Is)

Finally, to end this selection, how not to mention these two albums by the collective SAULT led by the trio of Dean Josiah Cover, Cleo Sol and Kid Sister released this year, and whose reach (especially Black is) goes far beyond simple music. Admittedly, it’s not strictly speaking a soul album since there are also gospel, R&B or afro funk influences, but in the spirit of the music of SAULT is Soul, in its protest dimension, as at the origins of this music, when it was used by black youth to convey a political message to denounce racism and police violence… as is still the case in 2020 with the Black Live movement Matters. (Forever Living Originals) – listening link

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