The “new” “old” soul

I remember when Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” came out and everyone started comparing him to a modern day club version of Al Green.  I like Gnarls, but that made me long for for Rev. Al and the soul of his generation.  Often find myself using my extra eMusic credits to download old Sam Cooke, Otis Redding or Smokey Robinson tracks rather than trying to corral the new “it” band of the month.  But what has been pleasing the past couple of years is the number of “new” bands that have exhibited the “old” soul of the 70s.  For instance…

Charles Bradley

Daptone Records is the head and shoulders above leader in neo-soul, and Bradley is their latest find.  A more subdued James Brown clone who took the recent SXSW by storm.  Many of these performers are not young’uns–their roots can be traced back to 70s soul, but for any number of reasons their lives’ paths have taken them until the 21st century to give our music tastes a booster shot of smoothness. 

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings

The queen of retro soul revival has been everywhere the last 4 years.  You have undoubtedly crossed her path.  Brooklyn-based–the center of all things cool in American music–Sharon’s vocal chords definitely take you for a stroll towards Motown.

Lee Fields & the Expressions

LF is a soul veteran who released his own material in the 70s, but has just recently received renewed attention on the crest of the neo-soul wave.  His album My World was one of my favorites of 2009–like opening a time capsule for the first time and finding that everything is still in pristine, working condition.


First found Breakestra on a 2 lane highway somewhere between Florence, AL and Memphis on some static-y AM radio waves.  Described as a “10-piece funk orchestra”, at first listen of The Live Mix, Pt. 2 you might think they were sampling all your soul favorites for one long party jam.  But their chops are for real, and later releases show their new-soul creativity.

…and a couple other 70s funk/soul revivalists who lean a little more to the intrumental side…


Menahan Street Band


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