Flicking through my collection of soul music compilations -- whether they be retrospectives or more current -- one thing that they all share in common is a tendency to be less killer, more filler. There are exceptions, most notably Tokyo Dawn's excellent The Heart and The Boogie series, but generally I have copped a compilation for one or two stand out songs. So, when Soul Independence released their Soul Independence 2: Liberated collection earlier this month I fully expected to love two or three tracks and like a handful more. What I wasn't prepared for was to stumble upon a solid, beginning-to-end collection of contemporary soul music from some folks who really deserve to be bigger names than they currently are. There are appearances from a couple of names you will recognize from these pages, such as Syleena Johnson (who delivers a safe but soulful cover of Curtis Mayfield's "The Makings of You"), Noel Gourdin and Slakah The Beatchild, but it's the lesser-known artists who steal the show. US-based trio Soulfruit shine on "In Love," a smooth-n-funky mid-tempo tale of the lessons we learn when we share a connection with another, and Gloria Ry'Ann delivers a killer vocal performance on the breathy "Wait A Minute." One of the collection's biggest surprises is the inclusion of Wildcookie's "Serious Drug," a standout cut from their 2011 debut, Cookie Dough, which doesn't necessarily fit with the compilations overall feel, but it's Latin swing is still more than welcome. Smoke E. Digglera also deserves a mention
just because of his name for "Say U Really Luv Me, Baby," a slice of predictable but well executed R&B that could be a welcome addition to those "Summer Sun" playlists that we will hopefully be able to bust out soon. Soul Independence 2: Liberated will be available both physically and digitally in June.