The Wicked Sound favorite Soul, Neo-Soul and R'n'B albums of 2020:
1. SAULT Untitled (Black Is) (Forever Living Originals)
SAULTUntitled (Black Is) is an absolute classic. Released on Juneteenth during Black Lives Matter and Uprising movement. The perfect soundtrack to difficult times. 20 songs and no weak point. Psychedelic soul, electro-funk, jazz, Afrobeat, trip-hop, and poetry, all in one place. Beautiful music and an important message. 4 excellent albums released in 2 years. Anonymous band, no traditional promotion. Production from Inflo (Little Simz, Michael Kiwanuka) and vocal from Cleo Sol (who also released her own solid album last year). Is there anything else should I add to it? Yes, If you haven't heard this album yet - do it now!
2. Black Pumas Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition), (ATO Records)
Black Pumas is a Texas-based duo of guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada and vocalist/guitarist Eric Burton. The unique voice of Eric and solid songwriting. A revelation. From busking on the streets to Grammy nominations. Phenomenal debut, the album came out originally in 2019, but Deluxe Edition, which we are talking about, was released last year. Their biggest hit Colors, has been viewed over 57 million times on YouTube. They took inspirations equally from Motown as from Wu-Tang Clan and the music sounds retro and modern at the same time.
3. Yazmin Lacey Morning Matters (Own Your Own Records)
Yazmin Lacey's new EP Morning Mattersis her most accomplished offering yet. The album is inspired by new dawns and fresh starts, as artists described it: “The EP is dedicated to anyone that’s ever struggled with getting up and out in the morning, for everyone doing work on themselves and trying to live better”. And that's perfectly enough, listen to it once in the morning and you have your mood sorted, probably to the end of the week. Its soothing, intimate, and soulful collection of positive melodies to warm you up. Album also features strong instrumental contributions from Moses Boyd, Sarah Tandy, and Ezra Collective's Femi Koleoso and Ife Ogunjobi.
4. Lianne La Havas Lianne La Havas (Warner Records)
Lianne La Havas self-titled third release Lianne La Havas is a concept album inspired by the stages of a relationship, from early romance to demise. Lianne said: "While I didn’t expect this to be the direction of my new music, it’s my reality and it’s driven by emotion. I dare say that this is the closest I’ve gotten to a pure expression so far”. What can I say, that this is a perfect direction and wonderful album. Neo soul album with elements of jazz and folk. Musically inspired by Milton Nascimento, Joni Mitchell, Jaco Pastorius, Al Green, and Destiny's Child.
Zara McFarlane’s Songs of an Unknown Tongue is masterful work that underlines her continuous growth as an artist. Four years after her critically acclaimed, produced by Moses Boyd, reggae oriented third studio album “Arise”, she changed her musical direction into more heavy electro grooves of producers Kwake Bass andWu-Lu. Zara’s fourth studio album pushes the boundaries of jazz adjacent music via an exploration into the folk and spiritual traditions of her ancestral motherland, Jamaica.
Adeline's new EP Intérimes, is a genre-blending collection of 7 songs that give a future-facing nod to old school soul, funk and R&B. Rising singer, bassist and producer said about the album: “Producing my own music is when I feel most complete artistically. Everyone’s process is the best process as long as it’s true to them. Producing is just the way that I love to make music. And the biggest part of it is that it’s fun!” As a listener and a fan I can say that it also a great fun to listen to it, it's really enjoyable ride.
08. Oscar Jerome Breathe Deep (Oscar Jerome / Caroline Internbational)
09. The Dinner Party The Dinner Party (Sound Of Crenshaw / EMPIRE)
Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasperand 9th Wonder have joined forces to create a new supergroup named Dinner Party. “Dinner Party is years of friendship, shows, dinners, conversations, laughs and life experience, all converging into one moment,” as band said. "Our chemistry is very strong. We all have a rapport with each other. It's like sitting down and having a conversation over drinks, and then we'll look up and be like, ‘Oh, we recorded something.’ You don't even realize it because it's literally just that simple. When you have the right chemistry with people, it's not hard." And we can feel and hear it, a relaxed atmosphere and a nice mix of nu-jazz, neo-soul, and hip-hop.
10. Jose James No Beginning No End 2 (Rainbow Blonde Records)
José James on his new album No Beginning No End 2 combines jazz, soul, drum’n’bass, and spoken word into his own unique brand of vocal jazz. It's a sequel to his 2013 Blue Note debut No Beginning No End. The album contains a huge list of special guests: Laura Mvula, Aloe Blacc, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Ledisi, Lizz Wright, Erik Truffaz, Hindi Zahra, and his partner Taali. As an artist said: This is a celebration of my artistic freedom and I want to invite the world. I’ve spent my entire career searching for a way to express what I love about music. This is Minneapolis Funk and me growing up as a child of the hip-hop generation. And it’s a tribute to the Jazz greats who weren’t able to own their own masters – Miles Davis, Nat Cole, Billie Holiday and John Coltrane.”