If it seems that pop-soul has become the current in-vogue musical vehicle for those searching for that chart hit or heavy rotation tune, Morgan Vinson shows us that although most of her peers may be able to deliver on the pop part of the equation, few do the soul part as well as she does.
Where You Belong seems to be a straight-forward enough song, built largely on an acoustic guitar line and allowing the vocals to dominate the remaining space but it is this simple arrangement which shows neatly that gimmicks and clever studio additions will only get you so far. To really break through the background noise of the modern music marketplace you need to have more in-built qualities, an inherent soulfulness, an infectious narrative, a confident yet compelling delivery, a natural grace. Morgan Vinson has all of those things and it is that simple understatement and a less is more attitude that ironically drowns out the competition.
A dynamic collaboration, Corey Zaks teams up with The Nik Naks for his fun and quirky first album, featuring “Float Away”. Corey Zaks and The Nik Naks make a naturally felicitous team, creating a light-hearted track which portrays a silly and friendly quality. Harbouring an indie-pop feel, they integrate a retro style funk and soul essence into the mix.
Using a combination of instrumentals, Corey Zaks creates a refreshing and gratifying sound, completely engaging his listeners. “Float Away” focuses on the highs over the lows, drawing attention to the effect Summer has on people, using this to describe a euphoric feeling. The use of string instrumentals accompanied with an idiosyncratic sounding bass demonstrates his nonchalant nature. As the tune progresses, each of the instrumentals play a part which evolves. The synthesizer plays with a futuristic sound, an enthralling addition to the melody that holds a nostalgic persona. “Float Away” opens a door into an untroubled world, presenting life in a joyous vision where the melody is as jaunty as the lyrics.
Lovin’ is nothing less than the sound of soul music moving with the times. Free Soul Effect, a duo from Indiana, are all about deconstructing the genre and rebuilding it from the ground up using electro beats, R’n’B groove, pop brassiness and they even find space to thread some rap through the centre. What they never lose sight of though is the inherent passion and euphoria upon which the genre has always relied.
Free Soul Effect sit a crossroads, one where a road which joins retro-soul with the future of EDM crosses one that connects R’n’B grooves with the commercial potential of the pop market. It is here that they currently build their tantalising sounds but from such a location they could head out in any new direction that they chose. Or just stay here and through a party on their own terms.
Bryant Taylorr managed to create a moody, yet catchy and engaging single with their recent studio release, “Song To Song” featuring Xanzanzan.
This song immediately opens up with a stunning atmosphere. The ambience is impeccable, and the atmospheres are wide and lush, making for a truly incredible production. The beats are dry and punchy, cutting through the ambience in a very beautiful way. One of the most striking things about this song is definitely the phenomenal chemistry existing between Bryant Taylorr and Xanzanzan. These voices fall in together in a perfect way, and whether they are harmonizing or going for solo breaks, it is absolutely outstanding. The song is also accompanied by a stunning music video that brings a lot of depth to the concept with some truly beautiful cinematography. The stunning visual aesthetics really match the experienced sound production, making for a unique multimedia experience for all senses.
Song to Song is a phenomenal single, where stunning grooves fall in seamlessly with memorable melodies and heartfelt lyrics with a unique touch.
An argument can be made that music of all genres are different iterations and expressions of the human soul. It’s that word though, soul, which has truly been able to define a very specific type and level of understanding and vulnerability and power in honest expression. For DEVIN, it requires only the simplest elements. A piano performance, a snap-beat and a chance to let herself shine through is all that’s needed for a soulful performance. To capture something so beautiful and so simple is a tradition of R&B, but all the more reason to respect these styles. Bring You In is DEVIN’s invitation to stop your day, clear your mind and focus on only this gorgeous sonic message.
Despite the rudimentary nature of the mix, it’s not right to discount the music as lazy. While the spotlight remains on the smooth and caring vocal performance, the piano isn’t just dropping compressed loops like a lot of musicians who strive for minimalism. There’s heart in every stroke. The snaps don’t provide much rhythmic variety, but act as a grounding element coming from something more intimate than the traditional metronome or bass and snare combo. In some ways, this incredibly basic beat can be called more intentional and romantic than layered beats with a richer sense of motion. All things said and done, this song is beautiful and worth slowing down your daily momentum to appreciate.
Sometimes a single effect can change a whole movement in music. Where would rock be without distortion? Where would ambient be without delay? Well, Spice Lo is making the case for filtering to make its presence known and creating a soundscape built on carefully chosen frequencies and some layered, auto-tuned vocals that sway in delivery but stutter in post. Everything from pads to basses to leads to drums has filters of varying resonance and frequencies.
For the Moment is an expressive track that makes the most out of each available element. Spice Lo hit a rare peak of feeling both confident and vulnerable. If that’s not a winning combination for fans, I can’t imagine anything that is. The lyrics aren’t 1-dimensional and seem to really resonate with the complex nature of how people feel in relationships. This is Spice Lo’s forte as a presence in the music. Beyond that, the music feels very alive and each layer has its own flavor to add, complimenting that emotional spectrum laid out by the vocals.
There aren’t many frills here. There is a performance that is passionate, but not bombastic. There are instrumentals that are similarly designed, but carefully distinct from each other. A track like this takes effort and the payoff is sweet. For the Moment is not a track to sleep on and Spice Lo definitely deserves to be labeled as someone to watch.
Whilst some people feel the need to pursue new styles, create new fusions and try to move things forward through strange chimeric musical experiments, others are just content to walk classic and familiar pathways. And whilst the dynamic vocal led soul and the emotive deliveries join the dots from Etta James to Nina Simon to Aretha Franklin and on to her own modern R&B peers, Jessie Wagner does that rare thing of bringing something new to the table.
Not so much as in a new aspect but new in that everything seems designed along classic lines but just, well…more. It is more deeply soulful and indeed soul searching, more emotively heart-tugging, more gracefully elegant…just more of everything. It is a difficult thing to do, to visit such defined territory and come away both with something that adds to the musical canon but honours its heritage. Difficult for many, not, it would seem for Jessie Wagner.
AMBY is a singer and songwriter with a truly unique approach to her blend of music. Her sound falls somewhere in between experimental electronic, Soul and R&B.
On her brand new single, Oxidate, she set out to create some haunting vibes through some amazing melodic landscapes. Her beats are groovy and hypnotic, relying on tasteful drum machine sounds. The high-hat samples drive the song’s groove, while the kick hits with depth and low-end, adding a full range of tones to the song and complementing the sparse synth backdrop.
AMBY’s vocal tone is tasteful an dynamic. As a singer, she is able to reach a broad range of tones and octaves, giving the music an open and diverse feel. This songs blurs the lines between the soulfulness of artists such as D’Angelo or The Weeknd, with the experimental twist of singers such as Bjork.
The production aesthetics are tasteful and understated. This arrangement is relatively simple, yet extremely rich in its production quirks and aesthetics.
Oxidate is a chill, intimate song with a pleasant atmosphere and some unique vibes, which are very textural and classy.
Find out more and listen to “Oxidate’ directly through AMBY’s official page on Soundcloud.
If partying is serious business then the music that acts as its soundtrack certainly isn’t. At least the end result should sound carefree and joyous but that isn’t to say its construction should be anything less than meticulously and expertly put together. Ari B walks just such a line. Yes, it may seem just like the perfect seasonal pop song, the soundtrack to a series of summer parties, but look a little deeper and you will see just how clever the inner workings of the music actually is.
Infectious pop built on a lazy funk groove, soulful vibes hung on a skittering dance beat, a winding down club classic, it is all of these things and more. This young Bostonian popster believes that “the purpose of art is to take us away” to act as a catalyst for escapism and Dance Into The Party is nothing if not a ticket to forgetting the world and finding your own pop-funk space, if only for 4 minutes and 22 seconds. But then again who could only just play the song once?
Music is most effect when it by bypasses the brain and heads straight for the heart. Tia’ Gold goes one stage further and aims her songs directly at the soul. Lonely Hearts is a wonderful musical package of sultry R&B, mixing minimal beats with a slow groove but still creating big dynamics with just these few building blocks. And if musically it sounds like an anthemic urban-pop future-classic, that is just the tip of the iceberg.
It is an anthem indeed, an anthem to the lonely and the overlooked, the forgotten masses and children growing up emotionally bereft. The combination of the heart tugging message and the effortless grooves make a powerful force, one that which goes way beyond the dance floor and becomes a soulful and soul-searching message to the modern world. Music as an act of love is a powerful force for sure.
Words: Dave Franklin