Soul Unsigned, Volume 2 | Various Artists

Various Artists – Soul Unsigned Volume 2

To hear song samples from the album, please click here!!

Soul Unsigned is more than just a few compilations that are marketed on CD Baby, Amazon, and other music purchasing websites.
  With his own Soul Unsigned website, Solar Radio DJ Phil Driver has a full-time support system of discovering the new breed of soul, funk, R&B, and jazz talent from all over the world.  This system consists of a promotions staff, a weekly radio show, links to independent and unsigned artists, and on-line columns on various soul music websites singing the praises of the undiscovered artists to watch out for.   The U.K. resident’s love for soul music goes back to 1975 citing sturdy voices from Minnie Riperton to Gladys Knight; eventually to a point where he started checking the various websites for the next shining soul artist.  These days, many of these promising soul artists are turning to the Soul Unsigned website, and from there, Driver and his staff provide free promotion and marketing towards those artists picked for their compilations.  Another goal is to build up the artist’s business sense when it comes to gaining confidence in the music production process and marketing the music for a particular audience. 

Driver claims he is not a vocalist nor a musician, but when he chooses material for the S.U. series, he tends to aim for the organic, less processed productions, and he favors original compositions over cover tunes.   Driver truly misses the more danceable soul from the likes of seventies and eighties hit makers Chic & Earth Wind & Fire that is lacking in today’s urban music.  The Soul Unsigned series, at least for now, primarily focuses on material with a high energy or mid tempo vibe.   As the S.U. catalog continues to grow, including releasing new material every six months, Drive promises special compilations featuring the mellower and chilled out aspect of soul.

Like its predecessor Volume 1 plus two EP’s (with four songs each), there are plenty of soulful treats on Soul Unsigned Volume 2 that should wet many old school appetites, and introduce some dependable and deserving voices to the devoted urban music fan base.  It was extremely difficult to choose just a few highlights and frankly the representation is well balanced; disco, melodic soul, in your face funk, to jazzier side of funk, and jazz fusion.   That aside, here are some tracks that jarred my attention on the first go-round.

Out of South Africa, a hotbed of all sorts of music – period, Nash Reed’s seamless voice registers soulful volumes for “Natural”, a tip of the hat to those sweet funky pockets that Patrice Rushen worked so well during the eighties.


Venueconnection, the six piece band from Spain who won the Acid Jazz Hispano award for the 2008 Album of the Year – Madrid Boogie adds an understated Latin kick with the title track.

Former bass guitarist for Acoustic Alchemy – U.K. musician Frank Felix, gathers his new band Frank Felix & FU Express, inviting the clubbers into “Club 44,” an intertwining of jazz vibraphone and funky bass lines going toe-to-toe with slick grooves.

Uncle Funkle, a project from the multi-faceted U.S. guitarist Adam Douglass who has fused rock and jazz with other bands, explores his smooth funky side on “Gonna Give It To You.”

The Australian born J-Funk-a former London finalist of Live & Unsigned in 2007, has a great ear for melody and a great understanding of the power of soul.  His vocal pleasingly floats throughout the cozy ballad, the title track of his debut 2007 disc Breakthru.

On their previous discs, Destruments have gone from one extreme to another by experimenting with elements of progressive jazz, hip-hop, breakbeats, and funk.  “Take A Closer Look” shows off their soft soulful side.

Maxi got a chance to sing an acappella gospel number on her debut Soulful Integrity. From the same disc, her powerful but elegant voice echoing many of her influences like jazz/soul stylists Phyllis Hyman & Rachelle Farrell, is showcased on “Stepping Out.”

Finally, last but never least, there’s the deep friend funk courtesy of Varius Funkus.  The unsigned Paris France band takes a bite out of “Get On The Beat.”

With the entire S.U. catalog, Driver has a true knack for finding the untapped artist who truly embrace their soulful roots.   For those who appreciate a refreshing break from the sometime hook-laden R&B and self-indulgent raps that rule the urban charts today, look for Soul Unsigned compilations at least every six months.  It is also great to know that Driver truly cares about the business well-being of these future soul stars in waiting.   I highly recommend all the Soul Unsigned catalog, including Volume 2.

Peggy Oliver

The Urban Music Scene 

For Immediate purchase & song samples, please click here!!

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