Reviews from SoulTracks on Sun Music are the highly rated music releases by artists played on the 24/7 and On-Demand streams.
|Maysa - Love Is A Battlefield
Ah, the covers album. A lot of folks’ eyes go into emoji mode at the very mention of the genre. The perception is that artists go there for two reasons – either they fresh out of ideas and they’re trying to create some buzz by consulting the Motown, Stax or (and) the Great American Songbook canon, or an artist might be at the top of his or her game and covering the songs that they grew up loving or perhaps even inspired them to become a singer is a labor of love. Read more...
|Stax Classics 60th Anniversary Collection-|
|The Stax Classics
The 60th anniversary of the legendary soul label Stax Records commemorates its extraordinary legacy as an international hit-making machine and its indispensable chapter in American musical history as an integrated company in the heart of the Civil Rights movement.
The Stax 60 celebration will highlight the hits, deep cuts and rare tracks from the Memphis label’s heyday of the '60s and ‘70s, including the many legendary artists who jointly created the world-renown “Stax sound," - Otis Redding, Booker T & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, Sam & Dave, The Dramatics and many more. The Stax 60 campaign will honor the music from Soulsville USA through curated collections, deluxe box sets, hi-resolution audio, streaming playlists and unique vinyl initiatives. Read more...
|Jazzmeia Horn - A Social Call
With an assured maturity and vocal confidence far beyond her years, the young singer Jazzmeia Horn arrives with her debut recording A Social Call, an album that reveals a talent ready to take its place alongside the best headlining vocalists of today. Its ten tracks—performed with an all-star acoustic lineup—bristle with a bracing sense of clarity: clarity in Horn’s voice (itself a strong and remarkably supple instrument); clarity in the heady range of vocal legends who have shaped her (from Sarah Vaughan to Rachelle Ferrell); and clarity in the vital message of social uplift and the glowing optimism she conveys through her music. Read more...
|James Day - Speak Love
It has been a treat over the years following the career of songwriter supreme James Day. The talented man of song has always had a keen sense of melody that has filled his many albums. And his knack for getting uber-talented singers and musicians onboard has been even more impressive.
As we get ready for James' next album, coming this Summer, we're excited about the first sampling he's providing to SoulTrackers. "Speak Love" is a reinterpretation of one of his earlier hits, performed by an all-star cast that includes Glenn Jones, Tony Terry, Tim Owens, Lin Rountree and U-Nam. It's another gem by an artist who always seems to pull a bigger rabbit out of the hat with his new projects.
|Avery*Sunshine - Twenty Sixty Four
Purpose, passion and positivity-----those events don’t equate to the Holy Trinity, but if during one’s lifetime you can get ahold of one, much less all three, it’s practically paradise on Earth. Such a level of bliss is so transformative and so life-affirming that one can’t help but to share it with the world, which is exactly what Avery*Sunshine demonstrates throughout her radiant sophomore effort, Twenty Sixty Four.
|Water Seed - We Are Stars
In New Orleans, the word gumbo can refer to food and music. The sounds that emerge from the city’s musical stew are an amalgamation of African, Spanish, French and Native American influences that can be heard in the jazz, blues, gospel, soul, marches and R&B that are a part of the city’s musical identity.
New Orleans is not the first city that comes to mind when folks think of funk music. Dayton or all points Ohio (probably), New York (definitely), and even Washington, D.C. But when it comes to Funk, New Orleans takes a back seat to no city. New Orleans gave the world The Meters, Dr. John and Trombone Shorty to name a few – and there is no shortage of funkiness there. Read more...
|The Baylor Project – The Journey
There are many kinds of journeys traveled over the 11 tracks of The Baylors’ The Journey, both explicit and implied. The most obvious is the project’s journey across a range of genres that Nicholas Payton calls Black American Music or BAM, from jazz to gospel and R&B to world, each getting center stage treatment and each expertly handled by musicians without obvious limits. And, while there is a notable absence of funk and hip hop, some of those sensibilities too are still present in the audacity and boldness of drummer Marcus Baylor’s aggressive approach to the drum, a sound in his hands that sometimes teeters on the edge of chaos, but is skillfully kept peering just over the cliff’s edge. For her part, singing in higher registers and exercising a wider palette of timbres and tones than we’ve ever heard from her in recordings, Jean Baylor is utterly unrecognizable as the former half of the ‘90s duo, Zhané, a transformation that takes the vocalist from great to outstanding. This too is part of the journey traversed, as both mature artists explore who they are now while giving a dutiful nod on the title track to whom they’d been and how far they’ve come. The Baylor Project’s The Journey is one you’ll want to pack for and join. Read more...
|Carmen Lundy - Code Noir (2017)
History tells us that the term “Code Noir” refers to the 18th Century Edict Concerning the Negro Slaves in Louisiana that was issued by France’s King Louis XV in March of 1724. The 54 points in the code were used to govern everything from the mandated removal of Jews from the Colony to the religious instruction and indoctrination of slaves into Catholicism, and is likely the precursor to similar laws passed in the American colonies and the post-Colonial United States during slavery and in the Jim Crow era. The southern states passed a series of laws in 1865-66 after the Civil War that had the intention of re-imposing slavery. This effort was undone by reconstruction, but was reinstituted in post 1877 in a more systematic way under a regime of Black Codes called Jim Crow.
Vocalist, composer and pianist Carmen Lundy took the term and made it the title of her latest jazz record. And Code Noir is most definitely a jazz record. Read more...
|Bell Biv DeVoe - Three Stripes (2017)
When New Edition members Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronnie DeVoe broke out on their own at the dawning of the 1990s with their self-described variety of “mentally hip-hop, smoothed out on the R&B tip with a pop feel appeal to it” music, the trio set a cutting-edge precedent for barrier-breaking radio hits in the decade that followed. Backed by the writing and production talents of Dr. Freeze and Carl Bourelly—as well as the remixing prowess of Wolf & Epic, Bell Biv DeVoe assimilated soul-tinged vocals with street-savvy raps on trend-setting hits like “Poison,” “Do Me!” and “She’s Dope!” But after selling over four million units of their debut album in the U.S. alone, the guys had a hard time maintaining the creative freshness and commercial success with subsequent releases, 1993’s Hootie Mack and 2001’s BBD.
15 years (and several New Edition reunions) later, BBD is aiming to recapture its prime-time glory with Three Stripes, a 10-song collection that hints at the variety of genres intermixed on Poison—with a slightly updated approach. Read more...
|Alicia Keys - Here
"Segregation, determination, demonstration, intergration, aggravation, humilation, obligation to our nation." The Temptations' hit, "Ball of Confusion," although released in the 70s, aptly describes of the world today. The contentious election cycle aside, issues like police brutality, racial profiling, and foreign/domestic terrorism keep people buzzing about what should happen next, and that's what Alicia Keys brings forth in her uneven, yet ambitious sixth studio release, Here.
Months ago, Alicia Keys public decided to free herself from many of the superficial restrains that she believed were wearing on her life and her art. "For awhile, I got caught behind this daily veil of feeling like I had to be perfect," she said in the September edition of Ebony magazine. "I had to be perfect when I spoke to people in interviews.....I had to watch exactly how political I got.....Then suddenly, I felt like I was a mute. .....I had put myself in a box, and that box wasn't healthy. I think now I'm just ready to be free." And that's what listeners will experience throughout Here----- a woman grappling with the state of the world and her place within it. Read more...