Soul

Ventura (CD)

Anderson .Paak’s star continues to rise on his excellent new LP, Ventura. Joined by a whole galaxy of top tier talent, .Paak delivers a non-stop mix of soulful, funky future hits. Along for the ride are Andre 3000, Smokey Robinson, Lalah Hathaway, Jazmine Sullivan, Sonyae Elise, Brandy, and the late Nate Dogg. Executive produced by the legendary Dr. Dre, this is an album you already know is reaching future classic status. Essential listening for true soul and hip-hop heads.

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Free Spirit (CD)

Khalid’s Free Spirit is smart, soulful, and smooth as silk. The Grammy nominee infuses alt-R&B sensibilities into instantly addictive radio-friendly jams — it’s a winning combination. Khalid’s honeyed voice floats over the glossy, sometimes trippy production, the lyrics candid, vulnerable, and brave. There’s a reason Khalid has gotten so much buzz and this excellent album proves he deserves to be at the top. Essential listening for fans of sultry, sophisticated R&B.

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Ruby (CD)

Nobody makes music quite like Macy Gray. Ruby is the raspy-voiced singer’s tenth album and it’s packed with her signature smart, vivacious brand of retro-tinged R&B/soul. Lead single “Sugar Daddy” is a fittingly sweet and seductive walk through the candy shop — it’s a sophisticated, innuendo-laced late night jam. Also of note is guitarist Gary Clark Jr.’s appearance on the excellent “Buddha.” There’s something for everyone here, from uplifting, feel good strummers to lush throwback soul and jazz to outspoken, politically topical ballads.

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Lost & Found (CD)

Lost & Found is the debut album by silky-voiced UK singer Jorja Smith, previously heard on the Black Panther soundtrack and on Stormzy and Drake collaborations. The album features well-produced R&B/soul tracks with distinctive lyrics and traces of trip-hop in their skittering beats. “February 3rd” has a pretty melody with a slinky groove, while “Blue Lights” addresses racial profiling by the police with a lilting vocal and an affecting chorus. “Where Did I Go” is another highlight, laidback but danceable with a sleepy melody.

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Soul Side Of Town (CD)

Perennial Oakland horn section/funk collective Tower of Power celebrates their 50th anniversary the only way they know how: with an epic, all night long rhythm & soul blowout. In production since 2012, the songs that comprise Soul Side of Town were pulled from four separate sessions in order to “make the best record of (their) career.” Whether or not it hits that lofty goal is up for debate, but rest assured that Soul Side is a worthy entry in ToP’s storied career and epitomizes the energetic, upbeat funk that they do best.

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