Soul music is sometimes considered to be a thing of the past, but that’s simply not true, with many modern artists choosing to incorporate the genre into their music, sometimes combining it with other styles to create something new. I wanted to shine a light on some of the more underground artists producing music within the genre – there’s also a full playlist at the end of this review.
Review by Jane Howkins
Picture by Danny Toeman
Danny Toeman – Shake The Blues (Outta Your Shoes)
The first song on this list is Shake The Blues (Outta Your Shoes) by Danny Toeman, starting off with an incredibly funky beat, combined with some groovy guitar melodies. The track also contains elements of funk, rock and the blues, although Danny’s vocals also have that classic soul vibe, having a fantastic sense of attitude and emotion contained within them. The brass elements also sound immense, making this a number you can truly shake your bootie to!
Natalie Rogers – Full Body
Natalie Rogers is a multi-instrumentalist from Pittsburgh, with Full Body being one of her latest releases. The song starts out with a dreamy keyboard melody, with some staccato bass lines appearing shortly afterwards. It’s quite a poppy song, but Natalie’s vocals are full of soul, as is the music she performs. Those into their pop music should enjoy this too.
GIANFRANCO GFN – SO DANCE
SO DANCE has a much mellower sound than the previous two tracks, with a smooth soul sound that is also reminiscent of the jazz scene. The bass and guitar lines intertwine together in lovely style, as gospel-esque backing vocals provide a crescendo of sound on GIANFRANCO GFN’s latest tune. The lead vocals are also stunning, working with the music well.
Zed, The Dreamer – I Died Too
i died too is a rather stripped-down affair, with a slow acoustic guitar melody with a jazzy vibe kicking the song off, alongside Zed, The Dreamer’s smooth vocals. The song picks up the tempo a little further along, with more elements being added in the background over the course of the track, seeing the vocals truly soar as time progresses.
DUB ZOO – Game Over
DUB ZOO bring a slightly different flavour to things with their song Game Over, which is heavily inspired by the dub and reggae genres. The tempo is quite fast, with a cool bass melody, ska style guitar lines and brass instrumentation being added over the course of the song, giving it an eerie vibe. The vocals are fantastic and sound incredibly soulful throughout.
Estella Dawn – Buzzcut
Estella Dawn is an Australian born singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist currently based in the USA, with Buzzcut showing great promise for her musical future. She has a fantastic singing voice with a huge range – the high notes were a particular stand out to me. The song is quite poppy but also mixes in jazz and soul, appealing to a wide audience.
Chris D’Agostino – Don’t Mind The Rain
Don’t Mind The Rain opens with a chorus of voices, before the piano kicks in. Chris D’Agostino’s latest is admittedly more of a jazz song, but his vocals sound great, straddling the borders of the soul and jazz genres well. The song has a very optimistic vibe to it, particularly when the percussion arrives, making this the perfect song for listening to on a rainy day!
HeIsTheArtist – Boom (Doo Wop Version)
The curiously titled HeIsTheArtist has created something special here, with Boom (Doo Wop Version) mixing together a contemporary sound with the more classic soul genre that we’ve all come to know and love. A slow organ melody combines with the unique vocal style, strings and hip-hop-esque beats, making this truly one for those into their more experimental music.
Damon K. Clark – Holy
There are several songs on this list that have gospel moments within them, but Damon K. Clark’s Holy is probably the track where it is most obvious. The lyrics are incredible and are recorded in a spoken word vibe on the verses, whereas the chorus lifts things up into an anthemic gospel tune, displaying Damon’s singing voice perfectly, alongside the choir of voices in the background.
Cael Dadian – Continue
Cael Dadian is a singer, with his vocals taking pride of place in his song Continue. Cael has a great singing voice, with the verses displaying his lower range, contrasting with the slightly higher sound on the chorus, which is very beautiful. The music is quite minimalistic at times, but it really works, helping to show the vocals off in style, with a flowing piano melody providing most of the instrumentation.
LACAÑGAN – Cool
LACAÑGAN brings the tempo back up again with Cool, which sounds incredibly soulful, also having a slightly funky edge to it at times. I was reminded somewhat of the more modern r&b genre, providing another element to the music. Varying vocal lines appear in the background behind the lead vocals, making it all sound very smooth indeed.
Anton Commissaris – Life Is For Livin’
Anton Commissaris is an artist we’ve featured before, so I was very pleased to be able to check out his latest release, Life Is For Livin’. Again, it’s more of a jazz song in the style of the classic crooners, but Anton’s vocals fit the soul genre well, with the track seeing him crooning along to an upbeat piano melody. The brass really helps the track to come alive – those more into their jazz/swing should have a listen to this!
Alli Bean – Two Birds
Alli Bean brings a bit of groove back to this list on Two Birds, seeing the singer and musician lending her deft vocals to a funky jazz song in a soulful style. The organ is used to its full potential here, with little twinkly piano lines appearing in the background to make it all sound rather unique. The bass is also quite prominent, working well with the piano over the course of the song.
Sol Morgan – Sex Appeal
Sol Morgan’s vocals start off this song, alongside a jazzy piano melody. The beat soon kicks in, with some interesting percussion lurking in the background of the track. The chorus is very catchy, with bass and synth lines appearing out of nowhere, drawing the listener in. Sex Appeal also features Ethos The Rapper, adding a hip-hop vibe to the track.
Lia Smith – Woman Of Mine
Woman Of Mine is the last song on this list, but by no means the least! It’s performed by Lia Smith, who has a smooth vocal delivery full of urgency and emotion. The main melody comes from the piano, but there are some other little motifs in the background that work well with the lead vocals and the backing vocals. The guitar melodies that appear later on really help to do the track justice.