We’re in (another) golden age of soul. Not since the emergence of neo-soul in the late 90s have we witnessed such a powerful surge of artists who are pushing the boundaries of the genre. Artists like Daniel Caesar and Kali Uchis are creating a version of soul that’s fresh for 2018. We profile them, and six other singers who are reviving the beautiful creation that is soul music, below.
If you admire the artistic range that came from the likes of Lauryn Hill and India Arie in the late 90s/early 00s, then Mahalia is bound to take you back with her sound. The Leicester native who seeks comfort in her acoustic guitar started writing songs aged 12, earning herself a label deal just a year later. Though the singer has described her music as “psycho-acoustic soul”, her acoustic covers and latest singles (‘Sober’ and ‘Proud of Me’), prove that her sound holds no boundaries. Mahalia’s deep, rich vocals and free-spoken lyrics are enough for you to feel the deep-rooted soul in her music, but her ability as an artist seems limitless.
When we think of soul or even r’n’b in Canada, the Toronto sound of electronic trap-soul is probably the first thought that appears to many. However, Ontario singer Daniel Caesar proves that Canada has much more to offer. Earning himself a Grammy-nomination in 2017 for his debut album ‘Freudian’, the singer tends to draw on his own experiences and religious background, sprinkling a bit of gospel in his music. From the slow yet funky groove of ‘Get You’ to the classic, smooth nature of ‘Best Part’, Daniel Caesar serves soul in its most pure and stripped-down form.
Currently on her first world tour after the release of her latest EP ‘Crush’, Ravyn Lenae is an artist who pushes the boundaries of soul with her experimental sound. Emerging into the music scene in 2015 with her first release, ‘Moon Shoes’, Ravyn’s ability to chop and change her sound is refreshing. Her soft falsetto vocals provide a sense of familiarity, somewhat reminiscent of neo-soul pioneer Erykah Badu. However, it is her eclectic mix of soft electronic soul (‘Midnight Moonlight’) and funky grooves (‘Crush’) that prove the singer has a lot to offer.
Joyce Wrice is 90s r’n’b. Not the artificial pop kind, but the smooth, soulful kind. Alongside her sultry, warm vocals, the LA-based singer embodies the nostalgic vibe that speaks to your soul. It’s not easy to produce that classic sound in your music and successfully make it your own. Yet, Joyce, who is influenced by r’n’b icons Aaliyah and Brandy, does it ever so flawlessly. Her most recent track, ‘Good Morning’, is one of many examples. The track succeeds in giving us that soulful r’n’b sound with a hint of a smooth jazz vibe.
Kali Uchis has been in the scene for some time. In 2015 she collaborated with the likes of Diplo, Tyler, The Creator, Kaytranada and BadBadNotGood to produce her debut EP ‘Por Vida’. Now, kicking off 2018 with her debut album, ‘Isolation’, the Grammy-nominated artist is proving that she is not to be overlooked. The singer, born and based in America with roots in Colombia, fuses a range of genres into her music. Often compared to Amy Winehouse for her smokey vocals, her talents don’t stop there. She weaves in a blend funk soul, funk, r’n’b and even blues that creates an eclectic sound that is resolutely hers.
Light and delicate in her vocal delivery, Cleo Sol is bound to draw you in. Despite working with the likes of Tinie Tempah and Wretch 32, it’s clear that Cleo has found her sound. Her music embraces dainty melodic elements that she clearly draws from the influences of her parents who met in a jazz band. In her latest EP, ‘Winter Songs’, the west London singer’s sweet angelic vocals on top of smooth instruments prove that her version of soul is enough to stimulate your senses.
[Photo credit: Christian Banfield]
Shaking things up with her outspokenness and honesty, Jessie Reyez brings an element of realness into the mix. The Colombian-Canadian singer naturally tugs at the deepest realms of your soul. Her strong raspy vocals are enough for you to feel the emotion in her songs but it is the rawness of her stories that singles the singer out. All her tracks are striking. While the authenticity and passion in ‘Figures’ will have you in your feels, ‘Fuck It’ and ‘Gatekeeper’ show the singer doesn’t hold back as she brutally tears down sexism and misogyny in the industry.
Smooth doesn’t even cut it when describing Raveena’s vocals. We haven’t been blessed with such light airy vocals since the days of Corinne Bailey Rae and it is rejuvenating. The New Yorker’s dainty voice on her latest EP, ‘Shanti’, is so gentle and pure. Tracks like ‘If Only’ and ‘Sweet Time’ will sweep your soul away.
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