The world at large has become enamored with the minimal electronic style of soul in the last couple of years, myself included. But there’s a warm, cozy place reserved in my heart for uplifting modern soul with a classic twist that just nestles right into that spot and illuminates it. I’m thinking of those artists whose music puts a smile on your face as soon as you hit play, such as Electric Empire or Ben L’Oncle Soul. If you’re looking for a new name to sit alongside those two, then get to know Opé Smith.
Like his contemporary Ben L’Oncle Soul, Opé Smith is a France-based singer who has a knack for creating joyful, hand-clapping, foot stomping soul that echoes back to the days of Motown’s The Temptations and Stax’s Sam and Dave. You remember that time, when songs that talked about love were more about the feeling of being in love, rather than getting into the nitty gritty details of actually making it? While the landscape of music was overwhelmed a few years back with '60s soul revival acts, the music of artists like Opé Smith is now a breath of fresh of air.
Smith has previously worked on projects with other French acts such as C2C and now is stepping out on his own with his debut self-titled EP. The six-track EP opens with the heart-warming “To Be Loved” before moving on to the upbeat “I’m Leaving You Tomorrow," which threatens the end of a relationship in the nicest, most diplomatic way ever heard on song. After this comes the harmony-filled “The Barbershop Tune” followed by “Get This Freakin’ On”, which sees Smith being assertive, exclaiming on the chorus, “I really want you/I’m gonna have you.” Smith even wanders into bedroom territory on this number while remaining extremely polite and highlighting his vocal range against the back drop of stabbing horn lines. Then it’s back to the sugar-coated soul after this with “I Believe In You.” Smith’s defense of his love his pure heaven, but the standout of the EP is the final track “Another Day,” where Smith shows off his flawless falsetto and gutsy vocals.
With a strong debut EP (available at iTunes), that pays homage to the old school soul era and unmistakably defines the type of artist Opé Smith is, it’s clear that big things are on the horizon for this soulful Frenchman.