Soul Unsigned | The Urban Soul Connection, Vol. 1 (Compilation)

Soul Unsigned, The Urban Soul Connection, Vol. 1


Soul Unsigned is exactly what it sounds like to the ear – a group of soul artists who are ‘upstarts,’ unsigned to a record label, or signed to independent labels.  This compilation in particular, The Urban Soul Connection, Vol. 1, features a survey of  fourteen noteworthy male and female vocalists who possess “talent deserving wider recognition,” by all means.  To call this compilation ‘cohesive’ might be an overstatement, but what this compilation does do undoubtedly is serve as a‘vehicle’ to heighten the names of these worthy urban musicians.

“Unique,”performed by Bashiyra, opens up the compilation promisingly for the most part.  Bashiyra’s vocals are lovely throughout, though the refrain is a bit of a let down as far as songwriting and the overall mix where background vocals are concerned.  Despite this, Bashiyra shines, which is most important. “Tonight,” performed by Ms. Monique is a better cut, featuring typical but sound urban production work. Ms. Monique possess excellent, sassy vocals throughout, with the only drawback being a few ‘pitchy’ moments. With a solid, cliché hook (“I’m feeling good (tonight), etc.”), “Tonight” proves more than enjoyable.   

“Soul Deep,” performed by Angel B featuring Bobby Mileage continues the momentum of the album, featuring solid production work buttressed by a fine groove, and nice vocals by Angel B.  Bobby Mileage’s contribution – the rap verse – is not too shabby in the least.  Continuing a compilation that initially seems to be female-dominated, Abrina presents “So Out,” another solid cut.  Abrina sounds great throughout and the production work is sound as well, save for covering up her vocals and the background vocals at times.  At this point, four capable vocalists have graced the compilation with impressive,though not necessarily revolutionary cuts.

“A Good Time,” performed by the first male entry, Charizz, graces the album.Charizz possesses lovely vocals, providing one of the more complete vocal performances at this point.  Charizz’s vocal style comes over as ‘so easy’ at times that the listener wishes the singer would take the performance to the next level with more mature nuances.  “A Good Time” is usurped by the even stronger entry by Lino Krizz, “My Life Iz On You.”  Lino’s vocals are incredibly polished with a superb falsetto that ‘puts the cherry on the cake.’  While “My Life Iz On You” is too lengthy,  Krizz’svocals serve as a direct representation of the great unsigned soul talent that is ‘up for grabs.’ Sule’s “Feel Good” keeps the momentum high with vocals that ooze with soul.  “Feel Good” as a track is well written with a perfect duration and a catchy hook.  Much like fellow male vocalist Charizz, the only reservation with  Sule is the notion he could stretch himself even more vocally.

“Anguish, Love & Romance,” performed by The New Congress featuring notable rapper Talib Kweli is a superb uptempo gem and leaves little to quibble about.  “In Your Dreams,” performed by J. Red, proves to be one of the cuts that is memorable to the listener. J. Red’s vocals are incredibly commanding (more so than some of the other males) and the songwriting is ‘on the money.’  J. Red raises the bar here, and level is maintained by the opposite, but equally enjoyable“Remix,” performed by Jaye Q.  Jaye Q.’s cut could be likened to  modern day R&B standout The-Dream, as he shockingly makes a generic title like “Remix”sound incredibly creative and relevant. “Remix” is one of the best produced cuts on this compilation.

“Just Say Hi,” performed by Cherri Prince featuring Mangaliso Asi is another winning cut. Prince sings more than convincingly and the spoken word collaboration provided by Mangaliso Asi is superb.  The smooth-jazz leaning vibe of “Just Say Hi” contrasts all other cuts.  “Get Ready,” performed by Jeniqua featuring Shanice is not too shabby a listen either, despite its excessive length.  It separates itself, adding a religious message to the mix, urging “God’s people, we got to get ready.”

“When This Feeling,” performed by Brooke Taylor, showcases another capable vocalist,though the track is odd and difficult to connect with.  Closing cut “Hot” is appropriately placed,finding artist Chris Youngblood trying to ‘play with the big boys’ in the contemporary R&B game wooing the ladies (“I’m hot, just like an oven, I want your lovin’, so let me jump in…”). Cliché it is, but worthy of a couple of spins.

Nothing revolutionary may be exuded by The Urban Soul Connection, Vol. 1 per say, but what the compilation does do is wet the listeners appetites for the soulful and creative talents that are to come and develop as time moves on.  And as far as a compilation, it is pretty well put together.  The biggest quibble might be alternating male and female vocal cuts more. Overall, a worthwhile listen. 

Brent Faulkner
The Urban Music Scene