Tag: soul

Earlier this year, I wrote about Her Songs. And as you may recall, the act is a multi-national collective featuring:

  • Dani Murcia (vocals, piano, guitar, production), a Colombian-American, Miami-born, New York-based R&B/pop/soul singer/songwriter, whose lush harmonies and haunting melodies has been influenced by the likes of JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim, Kimbra and Matt Corby. Her latest EP Breaking Light consists of stories focusing on grieving her father’s suicide and searching for beauty in pain.
  • Emily C. Browning (vocals, guitar), a Christchurch, New Zealand-based indie soul artist influenced by the likes of Emily King, Lianne La Havas and Nai Palm. Her work features conversational-style lyrics, that offer a deep perspective and insight into the human experience.
  • Francesca Hole, a French-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, known as The Naked Eye (vocals, guitar). Influenced by Nai Palm, Lianne La Havas, Maya Angelou, Joni Mitchell, D’Angelo, Bruno Major and others, Hole’s work as she describes it, are autobiographical songs about life experiences, relationships and overcoming hardships that meshes elements of jazz, soul, folk and R&B. Her latest EP Love’s Grave was released last April.
  • JOVM mainstay, Marie Dahlstrom (vocals, piano, percussion and production), a Rosklide, Denmark-born, London-based singer/songwriter, who has been largely influenced by the R&B and soul she heard in her home as a child — in particular Edwyn Collins, Womack & Womack and Gloria Gaynor were on regular rotation. Dahlstrom discovered Dwele, Dire Straits, Erykah Badu, Kirk Franklin and Fleetwood Mac in her teenage years.Dahlstrom first gained attention as a solo artist in her native Denmark, eventually becoming a three-time Scandinavian Soul Award winner. Since relocating to London, the Danish-born singer/songwriter she has become an internationally recognized sensation, best known for crafting a warm and ethereal synthesis of jazz, classic soul and R&B. Interestingly, after successful collaborations with Tom Misch and Alfa Mist, the Roskilde-born, London-based singer/songwriter has been busy writing the material, which would eventually comprised her long-awaited full-length debut. Slated for release latest this year, the album was recorded in Los Angeles, Copenhagen, and London and features collaborations with James Vickery, Jeremy Passion, Elijah Fox, Beau Diako and a list of others.
  • Emmavie (vocals production), a London-based singer/songwriter and producer, whose work is an amalgamation of 90s R&B and her love for digital audio experimentation. She has built up a reputation for being a highly sought-after collaborator, working with IAMNOBODI, Buddy, ROMderful, Jarreau Vandal, Alfa Mist, Nick Grant and Jay Prince. Emmavie has had her work featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network-produced series Queen Sugar. And adding to a growing profile, the London-based singer/songwriter and producer was scouted by  DJ Jazzy Jeff, who flew her out to his house in Delaware to write and record music with Mac Ayres, Robert Glasper and Redman as part of the Playlist Retreat.

The collective can trace their origins to a conversation the five women shared on social media. Their debut 2018’s Los Angeles EP found the quintet crafting material that meshed elements of 90s R&B with contemporary electronic production. Building upon a growing profile, the collective’s forthcoming sophomore EP Toronto, Vol 1. is slated for release later this year — and the EP’s first single, the Emmavie and Marie Dahlstrom co-written “If We Try” is a sultry 90s neo-soul-like track centered around the quintet’s lush harmonies, shimmering keys, a sinuous bass line and a soaring hook. And in some way, the track will bring Teddy Riley-like New Jack Swing, Erykah Badu, SWV, Timbaland and others to mind.

”I Wonder,” Toronto, Vol. 1‘s second and latest single is an atmospheric and contemplative song centered around shimmering and strummed guitar, twinkling keys, soulful vocals, lush harmonies, and a soaring and infectious hook. While being the most straightforward R&B song the collective has released off the forthcoming EP, it’s a sobering contemplation of the act’s five women, thinking of their future grandchildren looking back at our current moment and wondering how the five women were like when they were young — and how their world was. “‘I Wonder,” the group says, “came about after a dinner table conversation on climate change, sharing our worries about what the future looks like for generations to come. It’s difficult to write political lyrics without preaching, so instead we focused on the perspective of youth and curiosity in 50 years’ time, looking back and wondering what it was like to fly in an aeroplane and see the ocean from the sky.”

 

 

 

Rachel Huggins is an emerging London-based singer/songwriter, soul and R&B artist, who has had a lifelong passion for music. Although some of her earliest musical memories are of performing at school and at church, her roots in music may have even earlier origins: “My mother had a dream whilst she was pregnant with me,” Huggins explains in press notes, “and in it, she says that she remembers me being a baby, running across a large room to a white piano, where I started playing it. Perhaps this is why they wanted me to learn piano, who knows?”

Throughout her studies, the emerging London-based singer/songwriter, and soul and R&B artist performed across town, eventually founding a gospel choir. While studying music business and production and sociology at the University of Westminster, Huggins began to form her identity as a singer/songwriter and musician — and as a performer, with a stint as a backing vocalist for Billy Ocean and singing the National Anthem for Nelson Mandela.

Since then, Huggins has been extremely busy: she has been a two-time finalist in the BBC’s Gospel Choir of the Year competition, featured as a backing vocalist for DJ Vadim and Sola Rosa — and she has played at Glastonbury Festival, Green Man Festival, Kendal Calling and Secret Garden Party, while finishing up a Masters of Arts in Culture, Language and Identity in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Huggins’ forthcoming EP Keep Dreaming is slated for release later this year. Inspired by and grounded in gospel, soul and jazz, Huggins’ solo work is centered around tales of love and aspiration, with the hopes of lifting and inspiring listeners. The EP’s first single “Take Control” was written after she made the decision to leave a stressful and unfulfilling day job to pursue her dreams. “It’s about acquiring freedom to express without inhibition,” the emerging London-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “Sometimes we care so much about the thoughts of others we lose ourselves and momentarily become what others want or expect whilst suppressing who we really are.  I choose to fight and encourage people along the way.”

Keep Dreaming‘s second and latest single “Feels so Good” is a sultry, mid-tempo ballad, centered around a classic soul-inspired arrangement that’s roomy enough to let Huggins’ easygoing yet self-assured and soulful vocals guide the song forward. At its core, the song is a sweet and swooning, old-fashioned love song that sounds as though it could have been released during Motown‘s heyday — or on Daptone Records. “‘Feels So Good’ is an old-fashioned love story,” the rising London-based artist explains in press notes. “It’s an expression of love similar to that which would have been once shared in a love letter. Sometimes we admire people from a distance, and the other person never really knows how valued they are to someone else. If someone makes you feel good, tell them!”

 

 

 

New Video: Loren Oden Releases a Gorgeously Shot and Intimate Visual for Slow-burning “Is There A Way”

Founded and led by A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, producer and Linear Labs founder, The Midnight Hour is a 10 member ensemble that also prominently singer/songwriter and guitarist Jack Waterson,  singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and 18 year old Los Angeles-born and-based phenom, Angela Munoz — and Compton-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Loren Oden.

The Midnight Hour released their self-titled debut back in 2018, an effort that established their sound: jazz and orchestral inspired soul and hip-hop heavily influenced by  David Axelrod, Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Barry White and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr. Now, as you may recall, since the release of  the ensemble’s full-length debut, Muhammad, Younge and and the Linear Labs crew have been extremely busy: last year saw the release of Jack Waterson’s psych rock, solo debut Adrian Younge Presents Jack Waterson, and a lengthy tour that included a Brooklyn Bowl stop last September. This year will see the release of the ensemble’s highly-anticipated sophomore album, as well as solo efforts from Loren Oden and Angela Munoz.

Oden was born into a musical family and grew up in the church, studying gospel, as well as Marvin Gaye and Sam Cook. Throughout the years, he developed an affinity for vocal arrangements and earnest lyricism, which caught the attention of Younge, who’s a a long-time friend.  Slated for a May 1, 2020 release through Linear Labs, My Heart, My Love finds Oden sharing a uniquely curated sound with the listener: pairing lyrical transparency and vulnerability with orchestral arrangements and production by Adrian Younge — with the material being reminiscent of classic soul and progressive R&B. “This album is an amalgamation of my life in love: the ups, the downs, the good, the bad and the heartbreak,” Loren Oden says in press notes. “I strive to be transparent in my songwriting and I hope that the listener can hear and feel all the emotions that I’ve poured into this album.” As a result, the album is specifically written for the sophisticated, grown and sexy lovers out there, with the material delving into the guarded emotions we feel so deeply but try to avoid. 

Earlier this week, I wrote about Angela Munoz’s incredibly self-assured debut  “I Don’t Care” and interestingly enough, the Linear Labs collective end the week with the Valentine’s Day themed “Is There A Way,” the first single off Loren Oden’s forthcoming debut album My Heart, My Love. Centered around fluttering beats, a shimmering and gorgeous orchestral arrangement and Oden’s plaintive falsetto, the song balances a cinematic sound with an intimate feel. Recalling Al B. Sure! (in particular “Night and Day”) and Maxwell, the song is deceptively anachronistic Quiet Storm-era soul.

“‘Is There A Way’ is an optimistic song about love, romance, and true happiness with a person that you feel soulmate status with,” Oden explains in press notes. “‘Is There A Way’ is a simple melody taking the listener on a journey with me in my quest to rekindle love’s first spark. It’s that spark that sets everything in motion, and breathes life back into a failing love.” The song was written after Oden reconnected with an old love that he had a deep connection and very loving relationship with. And as a result, the song is Oden pouring his heart out to her as a way to try to find a way back to the love they once had.

Directed by Adrian Younge, the recently released video is a gorgeously shot visual, capturing the intimate moments of a couple — one-half of which is Oden. Throughout the video, Oden pours his heart out to his lover. 

New Audio: Introducing Los Angeles-based Phenom Angela Munoz

Founded and led by A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, producer and Linear Labs founder, The Midnight Hour is a 10 member ensemble that also prominently singer/songwriter and guitarist Jack Waterson, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Loren Oden — and , singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and 18 year old Los Angeles-born and-based phenom, Angela Munoz. 

The Midnight Hour released their self-titled debut back in 2018, an effort that established their sound: jazz and orchestral inspired soul and hip-hop heavily influenced by  David Axelrod, Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Barry White and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr. Now, as you may recall, since the release of  the ensemble’s full-length debut, Muhammad, Younge and and the Linear Labs crew have been extremely busy: last year saw the release of Jack Waterson’s psych rock, solo debut Adrian Younge Presents Jack Waterson, and a lengthy tour that included a Brooklyn Bowl stop last September. This year will see the release of the ensemble’s highly-anticipated sophomore album, as well as solo efforts from Loren Oden and Angela Munoz. 

The young, Los Angeles-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist phenom has a beguiling voice and mature presence that belie her relative youth. Munoz recalls Guns ‘N’ Roses’ “Welcome to The Jungle” as the catalyst that sparked her desire to play music and to become a star. As a girl, she learned to play guitar and piano — and with practice, she began to dominate singing competitions, leaving unexpected audiences in a trance. Interestingly, a few years ago Munoz’s brother Brandon introduced her to the Adrian Younge-produced Something About April. Munoz was intrigued by the quality of the music, and as a result, she found herself thinking about how it would be interesting to create music that encompassed various perspectives — similar to how Younge does so with his analog recordings. 

Shortly after being introduced to Something About April, the Los Angeles-born and-based phenom serendipitously found self working with The Midnight Hour, who recorded her song “Bitches Do Voodoo” on their full-length debut. They’ve since took Munoz on tour. where she’s blown audiences. 

Munoz’s debut single “I Don’t Care” features the Los Angeles-born and-based phenom’s remarkably self-assured and effortlessly soulful vocals over a gorgeous arrangement of twinkling keys and harp, soaring strings, a sinuous bass line, wah wah pedaled guitar and an enormous hook.  And while the material is deceptively anachronistic sonically with the song drawing from classic Quiet Storm soul and 90s neo soul, there’s an underlying youthful brashness that’s beguiling and infectious. 

New Video: Rising British Singer Songwriter Jordan Mackampa Releases an Ebullient Visual for “Magic”

Jordan Mackampa is a rising London-born and-based Congolese-British singer/songwriter. With the release of “Under,” 2016’s Physics EP, and 2017’s Tales From The Broken EP and Live from the Grand Cru EP, Mackampa has received critical praise from NME, The 405, The Line of Best Fit, Clash, Indie Shuffle, Wonderland and others while his work amassed over 50 million Spotify streams.

Mackampa’s work is inspired by his Congolese roots and his mother’s love of legendary soul singers like Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and Curtis Mayfield. And as a result, the Congolese-British singer/songwriter has developed a reputation for pairing old-school singer/songwriter soul, earnest songwriting and catchy melodies with a modern songwriting approach. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that Mackampa’s highly anticipated, full-length debut Foreigner is slated for a March 13, 2020 release through AWAL.  

Reportedly, the album’s material draws from the sounds and stories of the cities he’s spent time in and inhabited over the years, and while documenting his life as an outsider, the material’s sound is a melting pot of cultures that draws from his birthplace in the Republic of the Congo, his mom’s classic soul record collection, hip-hop obsessed childhood in North London, and his Coventry, UK-based teen years, immersed in indie rock — and all of that meshes together to create a hybrid of alternative pop, soul and indie rock. 

Late last year, I wrote about “Parachutes,” a breezy and deliberately crafted track centered around a radio friendly yet loose arrangement of twinkling keys, shimmering guitars, a sinuous bass line and propulsive drumming pared with Mackampa’s easygoing vocals, evoking the soaring highs of being in love and the embittering low of heartache within the turn of a phrase.  The album’s latest single “Magic” is a breezy and swinging pop song that reveals Mackampa’s genre-defying sound: the song draws from old school soul, Bossa nova and samba simultaneously. “This is a bossa nova and samba-infused feel good kinda track about when you can’t get someone off your mind,” Mackampa says in press notes. “”You’ve had one taste and you want more!”

Directed by longtime collaborator Tom Ewbank and featuring choreography from Taali Kwaten, the recently released video for “Magic” was filmed in a South London underpass is centered around the Congolese-British singer/songwriter and his backing band performing the song in front of a collection of diverse partiers, who dance the night around.  The video manages to further emphasize the song’s ebullient joy of being infatuated by new love. 

Her Songs is a multi-national collective featuring:

  • Dani Murcia (vocals, piano, guitar, production), a Colombian-American, Miami-born, New York-based R&B/pop/soul singer/songwriter, whose lush harmonies and haunting melodies has been influenced by the likes of JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim, Kimbra and Matt Corby. Her latest EP Breaking Light consists of stories focusing on grieving her father’s suicide and searching for beauty in pain.
  • Emily C. Browning (vocals, guitar), a Christchurch, New Zealand-based indie soul artist influenced by the likes of Emily King, Lianne La Havas and Nai Palm. Her work features conversational-style lyrics, that offer a deep perspective and insight into the human experience.
  • Francesa Hole, a French-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, known as The Naked Eye (vocals, guitar). Influenced by Nai Palm, Lianne La Havas, Maya Angelou, Joni Mitchell, D’Angelo, Bruno Major and others, Hole’s work as she describes it, are autobiographical songs about life experiences, relationships and overcoming hardships that meshes elements of jazz, soul, folk and R&B. Her latest EP Love’s Grave was released last April.
  • JOVM mainstay, Marie Dahlstrom (vocals, piano, percussion and production), a Rosklide, Denmark-born, London-based singer/songwriter, who has been largely influenced by the R&B and soul she heard in her home as a child — in particular Edwyn Collins, Womack & Womack and Gloria Gaynor were on regular rotation. Dahlstrom discovered Dwele, Dire Straits, Erykah Badu, Kirk Franklin and Fleetwood Mac in her teenage years.

    Dahlstrom first gained attention as a solo artist in her native Denmark, eventually becoming a three-time Scandinavian Soul Award winner. Since relocating to London, the Danish-born singer/songwriter she has become an internationally recognized sensation, best known for crafting a warm and ethereal synthesis of jazz, classic soul and R&B. Interestingly, after successful collaborations with Tom Misch and Alfa Mist,the Roskilde-born, London-based singer/songwriter has been busy writing the material, which would eventually comprised her long-awaited full-length debut. Slated for release latest this year, the album was recorded in Los Angeles, Copenhagen, and London and features collaborations with James Vickery, Jeremy Passion, Elijah Fox, Beau Diako and a list of others.

  • Emmavie (vocals production), a London-based singer/songwriter and producer, whose work is an amalgamation of 90s R&B and her love for digital audio experimentation. She has built up a reputation for being a highly sought-after collaborator, working with IAMNOBODI, Buddy, ROMderful, Jarreau Vandal, Alfa Mist, Nick Grant and Jay Prince. Emmavie has had her work featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network-produced series Queen Sugar. And adding to a growing profile, the London-based singer/songwriter and producer was scouted by  DJ Jazzy Jeff, who flew her out to his house in Delaware to write and record music with Mac Ayres, Robert Glasper and Redman as part of the Playlist Retreat.

Interestingly, the collective can trace their origins to a conversation that the five women shared on social media. The collective’s debut EP 2018’s Los Angeles found the quintet crafting material that meshed elements of 90s R&B with contemporary electronic production. The collective begins 2020 with “If We Try,” the first single off their forthcoming, sophomore EP Toronto, Vol. 1. Co-written by  Emmavie and Marie Dahlstrom, who share a mutual love of soul and R&B, the sultry and decidedly 90s neo-soul inspired track is centered around the quintet’s lush harmonizing, shimmering keys, a sinuous bass line and a soaring hook manages to recall Teddy Riley-like New Jack Swing, Erykah Badu, SWV, Timbaland and others. 

“‘If We Try’ is about asking the person you love for a second chance,” Her Songs’ Marie Dahlstrom explains in press notes. “Sometimes people are quick to break relationships off when things get off rough, but this son his about finding strength in vulnerability. we live in a world of instant gratification and relationships can often feel replaceable. We wanted to chance the narrative: you get so much more when you try.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Monophonics Release a Swooning and Shimmering Ballad

Since their formation, the Bay Area-based soul outfit Monophonics — Austin Bohlman (drums), Ian McDonald (guitar, backing vocals), Ryan Scott (trumpet, backing vocals, percussion), Max Ramey (bass) and Kelly Finnigan (lead vocals, keys) –have developed an approach that continues in the classic and beloved tradition of Stax Records, Muscle Shoals, Daptone Records and Dunham Records: much like their influences, the Bay Area soul outfit’s material is centered by an incredibly cinematic sound that draws heavily from classic soul, heavy funk, psych rock  recorded on vintage analog recording gear. This is paired with a healthy amount of old-fashion woodshedding, crafting and McDonald’s and Finnigan’s late night overdubs and studio work. “We’re from the same school as the producers from the studios we love. We use the tools that we have to make the best records we can,” the band says in press notes. 

Monophonics’ third full-length album It’s Only Us is slated for a March 13, 2020 release though Colemine Records. While the album will further cement their long-held reputation for being an act that’s keen to creating and playing a heavier and edgier version of classic soul, and for arguably being one of the Bay Area’s best classic soul-inspired acts, the album reportedly is a reflection of what the band sees as the current, troubling direction of our world. Thematically, the album touches upon much-needed messages of unity in a fractious and divisive world, strength, resilience and acceptance. Also, sonically, It’s Only Us reportedly finds the rising soul act gently refining their signature sound with a healthy dose of new and warmer textures. 

Last year, I wrote about “Chances,” It’s Only Us’ lush and uptempo bit of two-step inducing soul that sounds like a crate digger’s dream of stumbling across some obscure and dusty Northern soul or classic American soul from the mid 60s. But at its core, the song warned empathetic lovers to think twice about giving that straying lover another chance, making the song an aching and age-old tale of the difficulties of saying goodbye to a no-good lover — even when it’s absolutely necessary.  It’s Only Us’ second and latest single, album title track “It’s Only Us” is a lush and swooning track, centered around an achingly gorgeous brass line, shimmering keys and guitars, a sinuous bass line and Finnigan’s soulful and vulnerable crooning — and while being both subtly psychedelic and cinematic in a way that recalls Curtis Mayfield, Issac Hayes and others, the song, as the band’s Kelly Finnigan explains “is about the first time you tell someone you love them. It’s that moment in life so many of us have had where we make ourselves our most vulnerable. While on the outside, it has the qualities of a traditional love song, underneath it is an anthem for humanity. Right now, we are witnessing a time where so many people feel polarized and there is a divisive mood in the country. inside the story is a message of unity, trust and acceptance that goes beyond falling in love.” 

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays Black Pumas Perform “Colors” on “The Ellen Show”

Throughout the course of last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Grammy Award-nominated Austin, TX-based soul act, Black Pumas. The act which is led by Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter and guitarist Adrian Quesada and 27 year old singer/songwriter Eric Burton can trace its origins to when Burton, a popular street performer in his native Los Angeles busked his way across country to Austin, where he met Quesada.

Last year, the Austin-based JOVM mainstays released their critically applauded, commercially successful, full-length debut, and since its release, album single “Colors” saw breakthrough success when a live version of the song managed to amass over 4 million YouTube views — with the song at one point being one of the most added songs to Adult Album Alternative (AAA) Radio. That shouldn’t be surprising:  “Colors” is a decidedly old-school singer/songwriter soul track centered around a looping 12 bar blues guitar line, twinkling Rhodes, some gospel-like backing vocals and Burton’s incredibly soulful and expressive vocals, which manage to express hurt, yearning, pride and awe simultaneously. As Burton, Quesada and company explained to The Fader by email, “‘Colors’ was written while the sun was going down on a rooftop in New Mexico. Finding inspiration in the multicolored hues of the night sky. The song is a message of togetherness, but there’s awareness of mortality mixed in . . .”

The band has developed a reputation for a a relentless tour schedule that has brought their incredible live show across North America and the European Union. Last year  alone, the band made three separate stops in New York: The Knitting Factory, last May; Mercury Lounge, last July; and Brooklyn Bowl last September. Additionally, during that same period of time the band has made begun to make the rounds across the nationally televised talk show circuit, playing  Jimmy Kimmel Live. 

The members of Black Pumas have continued on the massive momentum of last year with an extensive bit of touring that started off last night. Their tour finds them bouncing back and forth between North America, the UK and the European Union and it includes an October 22, 2020 stop at Brooklyn Steel. Feel free to check out the tour dates below, and if they’re stopping at a venue near you, get a couple of tickets and bring a friend. But in the meantime, the band played “Colors,” which is quickly becoming their signature song on The Ellen Show.