25/30 house jazz r&b revisited review soul

gaelle – transient (2004)

Gaelle had a lot on her mind in 2004, or maybe it was one omnipresent thought. Either way, one hundred words might be too few to list the genres she brandished on her sole full-length release. Gaelle’s stunning house shines through padded kicks, nocturnal moods, and, later on, longing piano licks. The R&B and neo-soul […]

28/30 disco revisited review soul

sylvester – step II (1978)

Sometimes all the brain needs is great disco. It’s like a party and a detoxifying spa in one. For Sylvester, making disco and soul was exactly that; few records showcase the genres’ sense of rapturous relief as well as Step II. It is the antithesis of denial, and, having passed through the choppy valley of […]

26/30 album of the week r&b soul

gabriels – angels and queens part I

Anohni and Billie Holiday seem, in a brilliant scientific experiment, to have been welded together and strategically placed inside Jacob Lusk. The charismatic, warm instrumentation from Ari Balouzian and Ryan Hope coats the extraordinary vocals like a weighted blanket. Rather than shifting errantly, the tracks glide between flight paths in motions so smooth they’d force […]

20/30 EP r&b soul

blood orange – four songs EP

This EP contains four more songs of the expected output from Blood Orange. That would be a better title. While Four Songs is enjoyable, airy, easy to digest, I do have a complaint: it’s inarguable. There are so few edges, it resembles the hand sanitiser that fails to sink into your skin and leaves an […]

27/30 r&b soul

sudan archives – natural brown prom queen

“I’m not average,” says Brittney Parks, a lot. Natural Brown Prom Queen has a confidence proportionate to the Ohio native’s vision. The instrumentals don’t merely embody her celebratory themes, but urge them further, like a tennis match in which both players secretly support themselves and the opponent. This is as clarified as neo-soul, hip-hop, or […]

25/30 r&b revisited review soul

sam dees – the show must go on (1975)

Sam Dees just missed the mark—not in any tangible way (the title track is a little cloying, but that’s about it). A prolific, soulful songwriter behind Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston, Dees enjoyed a somewhat silent success. His name in solo terms is generally associated with soul aficionados frantically spitting the words “that’s great, but […]

25/30 revisited review soul

jackie shane – live (1967)

Typical of the time and wider, enduring misunderstandings around trans rights, Jackie Shane’s career, though still colourful, was stunted. This live album asks why such a vivacious talent had only one top 10 hit in Canada; it then lets the answer hang in the air for a moment. Shane’s soul-singing is curved and raspy atop […]

26/30 revisited review rock singer-songwriter soul

rickie lee jones – pirates (1981)

‘Pirates’ thrills because of a rich voice, intricate arrangements, and the range of emotions evoked. The balladic, Disney-esque closer feels galaxies away from track two (which mentions a character named ‘cunt-finger Louis’).  Jones’ great strength is in binding a spectrum of images and stories together with the same string, so that her best records resemble […]

30/30 funk revisited review soul

betty davis – betty davis (1973)

This is a voice that tells you everything going on in the mind informing it. Every one of Betty Davis’ desires are catapulted through her vocal chords—few singers could have such a volatile expression and almost none have put on a performance that bounces off its own excess so well. Even on the relatively serene […]