Mary J. Blige - Stronger With Each Tear (Album Review)

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Mary J. Blige is a modern day music icon; I’m guessing there are few who would disagree with that statement.  With 18 years (and counting) in the game as the reigning queen of Hip Hop Soul, nine studio albums under her belt - plus numerous high profile collaborations - it’s hard to think of a person more deserving of the mantle.

As with most ‘icons’, her discography has its ups and downs. What’s The 411? and My Life are certified classics, as are Share My World and Mary (if to a somewhat lesser degree).  No More Drama and Love & Life were both commercially successful, but saw her fans a little disappointed and can be viewed as blips on an otherwise perfect scorecard.  The Breakthrough (2005) and Growing Pains (2007) were seen by many as a return to form for Mary, and so the recent release of Stronger With Each Tear was highly anticipated by both ride or die Mary fans and those she had picked up on her most recent releases. Read more


3rd & 4th July: Mostly Jazz Festival @ Moseley Park, Birmingham

Mostly Jazz Festival January

I know i'm posting this one early, however I think it's worth getting the news out there now as the Summer months can be a little hectic to say the least. The line-up so far looks great, although i'll admit i'm only familiar with a few of the artists announced. The inclusion of Quantic and Lizzy Parks (both on Saturday 3rd) make it well worth the £28.50 entrance fee!

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14th Jan: 'The Residents' @ A Lounge, Trafalgar Square

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Bringing together some of London’s finest touring musicians,  Kathrin deBoer (Belleruche, Bonobo) will front a new weekly Thursday night residency at the recently relaunched A Lounge in Trafalgar Square.  Taking advantage of migratory musicians the line up will be changing weekly with very special guest players.

This highly anticipated project, featuring some of London’s finest, opens Thursday 14th January.  Expect quality stripped back blues, jazz and soul. The first week’s round up is with the heavy Richard Spaven (Ty, 4 Hero) on drums; 'Leville' Neville Malcolme (Incognito, Joss Stone) on bass; Richard Carr (Belleruche)on guitar; and the serious jazzer and Perrier award winner Tom Allan on trumpet. And out of the bag for opening night deBoer has invited fine wax collector, DJ Modest.

This night is an ever-evolving work in progress, live and recorded music to warm the soul and warn the blues away. Early and late sets, and for a short time only so catch it while you can.

Date: Weekly Thursdays starting 14th January

Place: The A Lounge at Albannach, 66 Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DS. www.albannach.co.uk

Time: 7pm ‘til late

Price: FREE

* Yet another reason for me to dream of living in London!


4th FEB: Choklate & Russell Taylor @ Vibe Bar, London

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The folks at Aesthetic Sounds have a real treat for soul lovers this February when US soulstress Choklate and up-and-coming soul singer Russell Taylor take the stage at Vibe Bar.

On the back of their fantastic 2009 albums (Russell's Confessional and Choklate's To Whom It May Concern) this is sure to be a great show. Tickets are available from Aesthetic Sounds.

More Info: Choklate, Russell Taylor


11, 12, 13 JAN: Carleen Anderson @ Ronnie Scotts, London

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Another soul superstar is making a 'comeback' in 2010.

Carleen Anderson, godaughter of the legendary James Brown, is set to release a live album next year which will be recorded over 3 nights at London's Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club.

Carleen is well known amongst soul music fans, whether it be as the lead singer of the Young Disciples, her work with Incognito and the Brand New Heavies, her solo material or her collaborations with artists such as Paul Weller and Omar.

Tickets for the event are £25-40 and can be booked here.


LIVE REVIEW: Beverley Knight in Birmingham

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With a career spanning 15 years, 6 studio albums, over a million album sales and several high profile awards, Beverley Knight has long been lauded as the reigning 'Queen of UK Soul' by mainstream media, however she is not without her detractors. I doubt there are many who would deny Beverley's vocal abilities, nonetheless many have criticised her material as not being up to standard, and she has so far failed to have that 'mega-hit' which has catapulted her to super-stardom.Read more


DOWNLOAD: Mark de Clive-Lowe 'Freesoul Sessions'

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Freesoul Sessions was created by Mark de Clive-Lowe in London, 2004. The concept of the project is simple - MdCL armed with MPC and keyboards is joined by a rotating cast of top soul, jazz, hip hop and beat-artists coming together in the spirit of total improvisation.

This fantastic 11 track compilation was recorded live at The Jazz Café and The Notting Hill Arts Club. It is now available as a 'name your own price' download from freesoul.bandcamp.com. If that wasn't enough, accompanying MdCL are 4 of the UKs best vocalists: Tawiah, Bembe Segue, Vanessa Freeman and Sharlene Hector.

www.twitter.com/mashibeats
www.myspace.com/freesoulsessions
www.markdeclivelowe.net
www.mashibeats.blogspot.com


VIDEO: Saunders Sermons 'Don't You Understand'

Saunders Sermons is an American soul and jazz singer, songwriter and trombonist who has worked with some of the biggest stars of today, including Mary J Blige, Jill Scott and Jay Z. If you have been lucky enough to catch Maxwell's BlackSummersNight tour then you will have already heard him play as part of the live band.

He has recently released his debut EP, Classic Delight, which steers away from the sounds of his past collaborations and focuses more on Jazz (albeit with a big injection of soul). On the EP he covers classics such as 'In A Sentimental Mood' and 'Straighten Up And Fly Right' aswell as giving us some original tracks, such as 'Don't You Understand'.

You can get more information from Saunders' official website, and the EP is available via CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes.


Stop Waiting To Be Discovered: Interview with Joy Jones

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Joy Jones
is one of those artists who have seemingly come from nowhere and taken the soul scene by storm. Her debut project, Godchild, has received critical praise from some of the most influential soul magazines, e-zines and blogs on the internet, and is being hailed by many as one of the standout releases of 2009. So, true to the fairytale, did Joy just appear from nowhere? Of course not. As with all the other independent artists making waves at the moment, Joy’s debut is only the tip of a very large iceberg. To get to this point has taken years of hard work and dedication, but now at last Joy is able to reap some of the benefits.Read more


Free Download: Zo! - '...Just Visiting Too' EP

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Most of you will already be familiar with Zo!, whether it be through his solo work (...Just Visiting), his collaboration with man of the moment Phonte (Zo! and Tigallo Love The 80s) or through his work with supergroup The Foreign Exchange. If your not familiar then you are missing out big time and need to get acquainted ... quickly!

Here is the perfect opportunity to do just that. Zo! has released his new EP, ...Just Visiting Too, for free download. With guest appearances from fellow FE collaborators Yahzarah, Phonte, Carlitta Durand and Darien Brockington as well as Sy Smith, this 7 track EP reads like a 'who's who' of indie soul.

Tracklisting:
1. Perfect Angel feat. Yahzarah
2. Nights Over Egypt feat. Carlitta Durand
3. Crazy You feat. Sy Smith
4. Holding You, Loving You
5. My Flame feat. Phonte
6. Somethin Special feat. Yahzarah
7. The Highways of My Life (Pts. 1&2) feat. Darien Brockington

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD - then head on over to Zo!'s blog for more information.


VIDEO: The Noisettes - 'Wild Young Hearts' (Acoustic)

Here are the Noisettes performing their song 'Wild Young Hearts' as part of an exclusive acoustic performance for Nylon Magazine.

The band are currently on tour in the UK, you can check out dates on their myspace page. I'll be at their Birmingham show this Friday.

SoulUK


VIDEO: Melanie Fiona's 'Subway Series'

Super-talented songstress Melanie Fiona takes to the subway's (and streets) of NY to perform tracks from her debut album, The Bridge, with a little help from some of the city's street performers.

Thanks to SoulBounce for the heads up.

SoulUK


LIVE REVIEW: Daniel Merriweather in Birmingham

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Last night I got the chance to catch Aussie soul singer Danieal Merriweather during his multi-city tour in support of his debut album Love and War. I have already made my feelings known on the album, and I was eager to see what it would sound like live.

RoxBefore I get into a review of the show I just want to mention Daniel's support act, London based singer Rox. I was semi-familiar with her work through her myspace page, and have been keeping up to date with the progress on her upcoming debut, so when it was announced she was supporting I was more than a little excited. I arrived just as Rox was finishing up her opening song and the buzz in the crowd suggested she had done well. She then went into the song I'm most familiar with, 'Page Unfolds'. To say she killed it would be an understatement! The crowd were young, and so I expected them to not pay much attention to the non-headline acts (that seems to be what usually happens), however she had their full attention. She also sang 'I Don't Believe', the fantastic 'Rock Steady' which would have been THE perfect summer soundtrack, and finally 'Breakfast In Bed' which really had her belting it out. It's safe to say that she gained herself a fair few fans in Birmingham!

When Daniel took to the stage the crowd went wild, and it was obvious that he has become Read more


WHITNEY HOUSTON - I LOOK TO YOU (2009)

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One of the most talked about albums of the year has finally arrived. With rumours circulating for the past few years but no concrete information, many believed we would never see a new Whitney Houston album, however under the wing of long term mentor Clive Davis Whitney came through and gave us I Look To You.

Her comeback had all the ingredients of success. First there is the dramatic back story (the divorce, the drugs), second she looks fantastic, third her fan-base is still relatively strong and remained supportive… but, in my opinion, it all falls down around the fourth key ingredient: the music. Read more


VIDEO: Whitney Shines In 'Million Dollar Bill'

It definitely looks like Whitney and her label are on an all out media assault since the release of I Look To You. First off we had the Oprah interview and the release of the video for first single 'I Look To You', and now we have the video for (presumably) the next single 'Million Dollar Bill'.

I have reviewed the album in full (should be up within next few days) and I admit I'm not really a fan of the album, however this is one of the tracks I did like. OK, it's nothing ground-breaking, and Whitney is nowhere near her best vocally, but the song is a fun disco/RnB romp which i'm sure will be a hit once it's officially released here.

On a final note you have got to hand it to Whitney, her voice may not be what it once was, but she looks amazing and judging from that Oprah interview she really has come through the other side of the whole Bobby Brown/drugs mess a stronger, more confident woman.


NEW MUSIC: N'dambi - Can't Hardly Wait

Soul singer N'dambi is returning to the music scene with the release of her new album, Pink Elephant, on Oct 6th. The first single, 'Can't Hardly Wait' has already surfaced and is available to downloadfor FREE here (thanks to HoneySoul for the link).

The video for the single also hit the web today, check it out below and add Oct 6th to your diaries, this is going to be one you are not going to miss!

SoulUK