Category: Neo Soul

New Video: JOVM Mainstay James Chatburn Shares a Woozy, Classic Soul-Inspired Jam

James Chatburn is a rising, Sydney-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and producer. Since relocating to the German capital back in 2015, Chatburn has carved out a reputation for being a highly in-demand singer/songwriter and producer, who has collaborated with acclaimed Aussie hip-hop outfit Hilltop Hoods‘ certified Gold single “Higher,”  rum.goldJordan RakeiNoah SleeSedric Perry, and a growing list of others. As a solo artist, the Sydney-born, Berlin-based JOVM mainstay has developed and honed a sound that meshes elements of soul, blues, electro pop, neo-soul and psych pop with the release of his full-length debut, 2020’s David Tobias co-produced Faible

During the lead-up to Fabile‘s release, I managed to write about three of the album’s singles: 

  • In My House,” a warm and vibey, two-step inducing bit of soul, centered around introspective, earnest songwriting, reverb-drenched guitars and thumping beats.
  • Jewellery and Gold,” one of the album’s more tongue-in-cheek tracks, featuring a narrator looking forward to a future, where he’s flush with cash, and as a result, any of the major issues of his life being settled with that newfound cash — because dollar dollar bill y’all. 
  • The Hurt,” a ballad that saw the Aussie-born, German-based JOVM mainstay express longing and heartache in a way that reminded me quite a bit of Nick Hakim.

Chatburn’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Late Night Howling officially dropped today. And if you’ve been following this site over the past month, you might recall that I wrote about “Do You Wanna Live Like That,” feat. Noah Slee, an expansive and mind-bending take on neo-soul and pop centered around a unique and woozily dynamic song structure that rapidly shifts in tone, time signature and instrumentation: The song’s introduction begins with twinkling pianos in a Latin jazz like tempo before quickly shifting to tweeter and woofer rattling trap beats and then shifting again to a vibey 70s neo-soul-inspired coda. 

Lyrically, the song is intimate and introspective, with its narrator vacillating between self-doubt, analysis, progression and gratefulness. “‘Do You Wanna Live Like That’ is a track I created which ended up kind of being a few different tracks in one, inspired by people like Tyler, The Creator with just these sudden drops and Sault with this vibe – simple not perfect, but just perfectly imperfect,” James Chatburn explains. “Noah Slee and I have been friends basically since we both moved to Berlin, it just took 7 years but we finally got around to releasing a track together.” 

Late Night Howling‘s latest single “Some Kind of Fool” sonically is indebted to Quiet Storm-meets-classic, late 60s-mid 70s psych soul as it’s centered around an arrangement of shimmering Rhodes, supple and sinuous bass lines, some metronomic time keeping, squiggling bursts of funk guitar and a soaring string arrangement serving as an ethereal and brooding bed for Chatburn, who fittingly adopts a yearning and heartbroken falsetto for most of the song. Although the song’s narrator is heartbroken and deceived, they have taken some degree of power back by clearly calling out someone, who has manipulated and exploited them.

“This song is about noticing being taken advantage of by other people and manipulated, but taking power over that situation by noticing it and calling out the behaviour,” Chatburn explains. “When producing and performing this song I wanted to land somewhere between Cleo Sol, Shuggie Otis, and Curtis Mayfield, I was like fuck it, I love it, I am going to make one of these songs.”

Directed by Dhanesh Jayaselan and featuring set design by Shari Annabel Marks, the accompanying video for “Some Kind of Fool” is an ethereal, fever dream that features an entirely black-clad Chatburn with his entirely white-clad backing band performing the song in a mistily lit, loft space. Local dancers — Nino Benito Marks, Kandi Alum and Lara Scheiber — perform some free, floating movements to the song’s slow-burning groove, and it gives the entire affair a woozy and floating feel.

Anna Stubbs is a London-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, best known for being one-half of forward-thinking London-based nu jazz/broken beat act Brotherly. Stubbs recently stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with her neo-soul/nu-jazz/jazz-fusion recording project Kinzoogianna

Stubbs’ Kinzoogianna full-length debut Gold For The Hungry Souls is slated for an August release through Brotherly/Kudos Records. Featuring a backing band of Rob Mullarkey (bass) and Richard Spaven (drums), Gold For The Hungry Souls will be comprised of “an epic, nu-jazz, soul collection of nine, quirky and memorable songs with hooky, unexpected grooves and harmonies,” according to Stubbs. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about Gold For The Hungry Souls single “Cinnamon Bun,” a dazzling mix of Quiet Storm, piano-led soul and jazz centered a mind-bending song structure, Stubbs’ powerhouse vocals and razor sharp hooks. Lyrically and thematically, the song captures life’s small — and perhaps most important — joys: waking up in the morning next to a lover after a night of lovemaking; coffee and sticky, sweet cinnamon buns for breakfast, with a novelistic specificity.

“Mexico,” Gold For The Hungry Souls‘ latest single continues a run of piano-led, jazz-influenced pop that sees the British singer/songwriter pairing Stubbs’ expressive vocals with glistening Rhodes, a sumptuous bass line and her unerring ability to write a song rooted in lived-in experience. It shouldn’t be surprising that the song, which was written during pandemic-related lockdowns expresses a wish to travel and adventure that should feel familiar to most of us.

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New Video: Tanika Charles Teams Up with DijahSB on a Strutting and Triumphant Bop

Two-time Juno Award-nominated and Polaris Prize listed, Toronto-born and-based Trinidadian-Canadian singer/songwriter Tanika Charles spent a formative part of her life in Edmonton, when energy sector opportunities brought her family there. But whether they were in Toronto or Edmonton, music was a constant presence in the Charles household: Her father would return from two weeks on site with the latest jazz records for Tanika and her brothers to play and jam out along.

Several years later, Tanika’s eldest brother would be the first to coach her on how to sing and how to record a song. As a young adult., Charles relocated to Vancouver, where she picked up gigs as a backing vocalist and got a taste of tour life. When she returned to her birthplace, the Trinidadian-Canadian artist’s long-held dreams of becoming a professional artist began to come to fruition: She assembled her first backing band, and with that band recorded her debut EP What? What! What?! With the release of her debut EP, Charles quickly became a local scene fixture.

Back in  2016, Charles independently released her full-length debut Soul Run within her native Canada. The album was sensation nationally, with the album receiving a Polaris Music Prize nomination and a Juno Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Recording of the Year. The following year, Italian purveyors of funk and soul Record Kicks released Soul Run internationally to critical applause from the likes of Exclaim!, Music Republic Magazine and others. Album singles like “Endless Chain,” “Love Fool,” and album title track “Soul Run” received regular radio rotation on stations across Canada, the US, the UK and France.

Charles’ sophomore album, 2019’s The Gumption was released through Record Kicks. The 12-song album picked up where Soul Run left off, further establishing the Canadian artist’s sound and approach in which classic soul is mixed with modern production. Thematically, the album saw Charles tackling moments of vindication, uncertain love, forbidden fruit and the state of the world. “It’s a little more mature,” Tanika said at the time. ““It’s not feeling guilty about being up front, not being afraid to address situations that aren’t comfortable for me. I’m comfortable in my skin now in a way I never was before.” The Gumption was long-listed for the 2019 Polaris Music Prize and nominated for the 2020 Juno Awards R&B/Soul Recording of the Year.

Along with her latest backing band, The Wonderfuls, Charles has toured across Canada and eight other counties to support Soul Run and The Gumption. Those tours have prominently featured stops across the local, national and global festival circuits, including Rennes Trans MusicalesNXNELärz FusionPop MontrealCanarias Jazz FestivalCBC Music FestivalTD Toronto Jazz FestBirmingham’s Mostly Funk, Soul and Jazz Festival, the Pan Am Games and a list of others.

The Canadian artist’s music has appeared on HBO’s Less Than Kind, ABC’s Rookie BlueThe CW’s SeedCTV’s Saving HopeCBC’s Kim Convenience and Workin’ Moms and a nationally broadcast KFC ad campaign. She also has appeared as a reoccurring guest on CBC Kids and as a lounge singer on Global TV’s Bomb Girls. Between a busy schedule as a touring musician, Charles appeared in the touring production of Freedom Singer in 2017. She returned to that role in February 2019’s Now We Recognize

Charles’ third album Papillon de Nuit: The Night Butterfly is slated for an April 8, 2022 release through Record Kicks. The album, which features guest spots from Toronto-based emcee DijahSB and multi-disciplinary artist Khari McClelland was written and recorded during and after pandemic related lockdowns and restrictions. Much like its immediate predecessor, the forthcoming album is reportedly anchored in growth and maturity. 

The album’s title is derived from an unlikely source, a creature that soars after the sun has set, but often goes unnoticed until light is shone on it. Referred to as “papillon de nuit” by some, the animal is more commonly known as a moth, possibly revealing a linguistic bias. “I always thought it was a strange insect,” the acclaimed Canadian artist says in press notes. “Once while in Paris, a friend swatted at one and I asked: ‘Was that a moth?’. I was told: ‘No, that’s a papillon de nuit.’ I thought that was the most beautiful description for this otherwise overlooked creature. When I later learned of the symbolism associated with it, I felt that really spoke to both my own situation and also what we’ve all been going through.”

Last month, I wrote about the funky, old-school soul-inspired bop “Rent Free,” a fiery tell-off to the energy sucking vampires, deadbeats, naysayers, haters, time wasters and other shitty people of life, centered around Charles’ effortless, Motown era-like delivery. We’ve all had those sorts in our lives, and this song is the sort of song that tells you that it’s okay to push those toxic people out of your life for you to feel better — or to succeed.

The album’s latest single “Different Morning” is a collaboration that features Toronto-based emcee DijahSB, whose album Head Above the Waters was featured in Exclaim Magazine‘s Top 50 Albums of the year and landed a Juno Award nomination — and a performance slot at the award show. Sonically speaking, “Different Morning” is a slick and strutting synthesis of Larry Levan-like house and neo-soul centered around twinkling Rhodes, a sinuous bass line, swinging J. Dilla-like beats, and ebullient horn blasts. And over that celebratory two-step inducing production, Charles contributes soulful vocals that gradually build up confidence with a celebratory and triumphant verse from DijahSB.

“So much of our days are spent dwelling on the same mistakes, the same misfortunes. That thing we wish didn’t happen, or what we wish we hadn’t done,” Tanika Charles explains in press notes. “‘Different Morning’ is about starting a new day without that baggage, about finding a way to correct course and move past it. What starts as a pitiful interior monologue evolves into a celebration of getting over that hump by being your biggest cheerleader. DijahSB is someone who was able to carry that triumphant spirit that the second half of the song needed. ‘I’m alive today’ is enough of a blessing, enough of an accomplishment, and enough to be thankful for.”

Directed by Cazhhmere, the accompanying video for “Different Morning” features the Canadian artists in a lush, Alice in Wonderland-like maze at night dancing and rocking out to the song. Shit, I wish I could join them because they’re having fun, and just enjoying the moment.

New Audio: British Soul Outfit Mama’s Gun releases a Crafted and Soulful Double A-Side Single

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Deriving their name from Erykah Badu‘s acclaimed and beloved album Mama’s Gun, the London-based soul outfit Mama’s Gun — currently, Andy Platts, Cameron Dawson, David Oliver, Terry Lewis and Chris Boot — formed back in 2008. And since their formation, they’ve released four full-length albums: 2009’s Routes to Riches, which broke big in Japan and eventually lead to the British band being the most played international artist on Japanese radio that year; 2011’s Life and Soul; 2014’s Cheap Hotel; and 2018’s Golden Days.

Adding to a growing profile, the London-based soul outfit have opened for Level 42, Beverley Knight, Ben l’Oncle Soul and Raphael Saadiq while developing a fanbase across Southeast Asia — in particular South Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore.

Mama’s Gun begins the new year with the “Party For One”/”Looking for Moses” double A-side single. Released this past Friday through the band’s Candelion Records with Secretly Group and Colemine Records serve as a bit of a teaser for the band’s forthcoming fifth album. “Party For One” is a slow-burning and strutting bit of 70s psych soul and neo-soul centered around the sort of low-slung and wobbling bass line that would make Bootsy Collins proud, a lush horn line, fluttering psychedelic effects and Andy Platts’ dreamy falsetto. “Party For One” points out a bitter irony that even loners and homebodies felt during pandemic-related lockdowns — sometimes, you just want to see and talk to another human adult.

“Lyrically ‘Party For One’ comes from me being a bit of a loner – I like my own company and space to create, think and reflect,” the band’s Andy Platts explains. “I was in my ideal world during the early stages of the pandemic, on my own and with no one around, but I was mourning the company of strangers. There is something in anonymous togetherness that is the stuff of life.” 

“Looking For Moses” manages to continue a run of crafted and expansive, 70s inspired soul centered around Andy Platts’ easygoing Bill Withers-like delivery paired with a warm and lush arrangement of wah wah pedaled guitar, glistening and arpeggiated Rhodes, shimmering strings and soulful harmonizing. Much like its companion, “Looking For Moses” comes from a deeply personal, lived-in space –while actually paying homage to the legendary Withers.

“‘Looking For Moses’ was the track that kicked off the writing for our new album [to be announced shortly],” Platts says. “Everything was panic stations at the time, it was my daughter that inspired the first set up with the lyrics ‘her mama says she can’t go out, baby girl maybe one day you’ll understand, when all of this is in the past.’ I wanted to imbue it with a bit of hope too – it’s about leaning on your beliefs but more so it’s about standing united and staying the course, and the reality of simply getting by and getting through life.”

New Video: Introducing Toronto’s Ass-kicking, Hard Rocking SATE

SATE is a Toronto-based singer/songwriter and rock frontperson, who sings empowering messages backed by a band that meshes blistering hard rock and gritty blues. The Canadian artist and her backing band have developed and honed an emotionally charged and critically applauded live show, which has led to tours across Canada, the States and Europe, and festival appearances at Afropunk Brooklyn, Paris and London, Paleo Festival, Lott Festival and Secret Garden Party.

Her full-length debut, 2017’s Red, Black, and Blue, the Toronto-based artist thematically pursued her spiritual connection to the black panther, the red robin and the blue butterfly. With her recently released sophomore album, The Fool, the rising Canadian artist pursues her connection to the tarot — with the album’s title derived from the hero of the tarot deck, The Fool. In tarot, The Fool card is about beginnings and trust; of essentially jumping off a cliff with no real plan but an ultimate faith and trust in the universe.

According to SATE, The Fool is an anthem for anyone who has dared to dream and work towards their greatest self. Album title track “The Fool,” is a slow-burning synthesis of soul, neo-soul and power chord-based arena rock centered around SATE’s powerhouse vocals.

Earlier this year, the Toronto-based artist released a gorgeously shot, short film, which features “The Fool,” as well as a sampling of other material from the album — and from what you’ll hear, SATE is a badass, kick ass and take names sort of superstar in the making. And goodness that voice! The video is centered around themes tackled on the album, while showing the Toronto-based artist railing against stereotypes of all sorts, along with a collection of women who kick ass.

Lyric Video: Stereonoon Releases a Neo Soul and Jazz-Tinged Take on Trip Hop

Stereonoon is an Italian neo-soul/jazz and R&B inspired collective formed during pandemic-related lockdowns that features core creative duo Verona-born vocalist Anna Polinari and cinemavolt’s creative mastermind Max Tozzi paired with a rotating cast of talented Italian players. Late last year, the act released a straightforward yet vibey cover of Joe Jackson‘s classic “Steppin’ Out,” centered around a sinuous bass line and Polinari’s sultry vocals.

The act’s debut EP Yeah. And Stuff was released late last month and features guest spots from a number of internationally acclaimed musicians including Snarky Puppy’s Mark Lettieri (guitar), Matteo Pontegavelli (trumpet) and Francesco Dondi (tenor saxophone). The EP’s latest single “Inconvenient” is a neo-soul and jazz-tinged take on trip hop centered around twinkling piano, a sinuous bass line, stuttering drumming, an expressive, jazz-inspired guitar solo and Polinari’s sultry vocals. Lyrically, the song is an unflinchingly honest view of a vulnerable narrator examining herself and her longing to be someplace she feels she belongs.

New Audio: Philly’s brushstroke Releases a Wobbly and Expansive New Single

Eoin Murphy is a Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind behind the emerging solo recording project brushstroke, a project influenced by neo-soul, psych pop and alternative R&B.

Late last year, I wrote about the slow-burning “Freeze,” a single that reminded me quite a bit of JOVM mainstays Nick Hakim and Tame Impala as it was centered around a dusty, lo-fi production shimmering guitars, twinkling keys, blown-out beats, Murphy’s plaintive and soulful falsetto and a radio friendly hook. Building upon a growing profile, the Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter released his latest single “Lucid,” which finds him further establishing and expanding upon his wobbly, lo-fi sound complete with blown-out beats and shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, soulful vocals paired with neo-soul crooning and shoegazey guitars and vibes. But unlike its immediate predecessor, “Lucid” possesses a hip-hop-inspired swagger that fully manifests itself with hard hitting boom-bap beats and a skittering J. Dilla meets Flying Lotus-like coda. And underneath all of that is all of the profound and uneasy feelings of the past year or so of most of our lives — that feeling of being adrift and isolated, of frustration and boredom, of anger over increasing injustice and shitty behavior, and so on.

“The concept of the track really just stems from a lot of stress and anger that myself and I’m sure lots of other people we’re feeling throughout 2020.”

New Video: Acclaimed Scandinavian Soul Artist Jonas Releases a Strutting Ode to Self-Care

Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jonas (born Jonas Rendbo) has been hailed by international press as the Godfather of Scandinavian Soul throughout the course of his 20+ year music career. Renbo has managed to be remarkably prolific, releasing a ton fo his own original music, which he has supported with tours sharing stages with the likes of internationally applauded artists like Omar, John Legend, Joss Stone, Lynden David Hall and Bilal among a lengthy and growing list of others. Adding to his accolades, Rendbo won Artist of the Year and Best Video at the 2016 Scandinavian Soul Music Awards.

Since 2004, Rendbo has split time between Copenhagen and London, where he met his wife and started a family. And while in London, he started collaborating with London-based multi-instrumentalist and producer The Scratch Professor, who coincidentally is Omar’s brother. Rendbo and The Scratch Professor had an instant musical simpatico and a couple of songs they wrote together wound up on Jonas’ sophomore album 2009’s W.A.I.T.T.

Their collaboration also managed to produce a handful of songs that the Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter had kept in his vault over the past decade or so— until he released them as the four song EP EP 4ward Fast To Future. Recorded, produced, mixed and mastered during COVID-19 quarantine lockdown during April, the EP is return to the warm, neo-soul sounds of his earliest work. Earlier this year, I wrote about “Pick Me Up,” a warm, 90s neo-soul track, centered around shimmering Rhodes, boom bap-like beats, a sinuous bass line, a strutting horn line, an infectious hook and Rendbo’s sultry and plaintive falsetto. And while being a joyous, two step-inducing, radio friendly jam, the song’s narrator talks about desiring — and then having — the sort of love (and lover) that most of us dream of: that ride or die person, who’s with you and supports you through thick and thin, joy and heartbreak, sickness and health.

The EP was released to widespread praise across the blogosphere including SoulBounce.com, ScandinavianSoul.com and was a featured album on SoulTracks.com. Additionally, the EP’s material received airplay on soul music ration station across the globe. Building upon that momentum, the Danish-born singer/songwriter released teh 4ward Fast to Future (Remixes) which features remixes of some of the EP’s material by friends and musical collaborators, done inc completely different styles. But in the meantime, Renbo released the EP’s latest single, the slow-burning “What’s Cooking.” Much like it’s predecessor, the track is centered by twinkling Rhodes arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, strutting horns and Renbo’s plaintive vocals; however, the song finds its narrator wanting to simply his life and find himself in his own terms while living in a chaotic world.

Featuring video graphics and editing by Jacob Vinjegaard, the recently released video for “What’s Cooking” is shot with a grainy Instagram-like filter and follows Renbo in some intimate and trippy footage.

James Chatburn · Jewellery And Gold

I’ve written a quite a bit about the Sydney-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and producer James Chatburn over the past five years or so. With the release of his first two EPs and a string of critically applauded, commercially successful collaborations — including Aussie hip-hop act Hilltop Hoods‘ certified Gold single “Higher,” Chatburn quickly established himself as an in-demand songwriter and producer, and one of indie soul’s rising talents, developing and honing a sound that features elements of soul, blues, electro pop and neo soul.

Chatburn’s highly-anticipated full-length debut, Faible is slated for release later this year, and the album reportedly finds the Sydney-born, Berlin-based artist further cementing the warm, soulful sound that has won him attention internationally  — but while pushing his sound in a subtly psychedelic direction: the album’s material sonically is influenced by Unknown Mortal Orchestra, D’Angelo, Donny Hathaway, and Shuggie Otis among others. Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “In My House,” a warm and vibey two-step inducing track centered around introspective songwriting. “Jewellery and Gold,” Faible‘s latest single continues a run of vibey and dusty neo-soul featuring twinkling, old-timey keys propulsive boom bap-like breakbeats, a sinuous bass line and Chatburn’s effortlessly soulful crooning.

Interestingly, the song may be among the funniest, most tongue-in-cheek leaning song he’s written, as the song finds him — er, his narrator — looking forward to a future where he’s flush with cash and all of his issues would just dissolve, because — well, money.  Those of us, who have worked hard to live check-to-check understand that one implicitly.

“It started off as a noughties Pharrell/Neptunesy kind of vibe, but then I replaced the original synth with a piano and I decided to go for this throwback soul feeling, coming back to this Neptunes vibe in part c,” Chatburn says of his latest single. “As an indie artist I don’t live off much money, but sometimes I think, damn it would be nice to have a little more, even if I know that’s not gonna solve anything.”

 

With her recently released debut EP La fille aux cheveux coleur soleil, the emerging Lille, France-based singer/songwriter Julia quickly establishes her sound and approach  — a slick synthesis of jazzy neo-soul, hop-hop inspired beats paired with the French singer/songwriter’s  powerhouse vocals singing and rhyming lyrics in her native French and English.  “I’m just trying to make you feel my  feelings. The rest is all yours,” the Lille-based singer/songwriter says in press notes.

EP title track and opener “La fille aux cheveux coleur soleil” is a swaggering and slow-burning, neo-soul track with twinkling Rhodes, thumping beats, atmospheric electronics and Julia’s effortlessly soulful and sultry vocals. The EP’s second single “Hangover” is a hip-hop soul-like track featuring some more twinkling Rhodes, boom-bap beats, a sinuous bass line and Julia singing in a jazzy and seductive French. Seemingly inspired by Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and others, with a Quiet Storm vibey-ness, these two tracks — to my ears, at least — reveal a young superstar in the making. The EP’s two singles possess a remarkable self-assuredness and confidence with the material being ambitious, accessible — and centered around earnest, lived-in experience.