If you’re suffering from the January Blues, we’ve got the perfect remedy to pick you up.
A wise person once said “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything” and frankly (my dear) we agree!
So, to help you beat those January blues, we’ve picked five of our favourite soulful albums to help quieten the mind and soothe your soul. We’ve even included a link to the album on Spotify so you can have a quick listen to our recommendations before parting with your hard-earned cash.
1. Jamie Cullum – Interlude
First on the list is Jamie Cullum’s new album Interlude. For those who have been living in hibernation for the past 15 years, Jamie Cullum is a jazz/pop singer-songwriter famed for his unique musical style, his boyish charisma and his super-talented abilities on the piano. While Cullum’s musical roots are firmly based in jazz, what makes him so popular is his ability to perform in a wide range of styles, from vocal jazz to swing to pop and blue-eyed soul. Following the success of his first studio album Heard it All Before, Cullum hit the big time when he was signed by Universal in 2003 and his second studio album Twentysomething went platinum. Since then, Cullum has gone from strength to strength with seven studio albums, a weekly jazz show on BBC Radio 2 and a host of awards to his name including 2005 BBC Jazz Awards Artist of the Year.
Interlude is Cullum’s seventh studio album and was released in October 2014. It is packed full of jazz standards and new tracks and is sure to impress with its mix of up-beat tunes such as Sack O’ Woe and Don’t You Know, foot-tapping jazz numbers like Interlude and Walkin’ and smooth, laid-back numbers such as Losing You and Make Someone Happy. Our personal favourites are Lovesick Blues, a catchy jazz track that sounds fabulous with the full swing orchestra and My One and Only Love, a stunning piano ballad with a beautiful melody and flawless vocals. The duets with Laura Mvula (Good Morning Heartache) and Gregory Porter (Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood) are also equally excellent and well worth a listen.
2. George Ezra – Wanted on Voyage
If Jamie Cullum doesn’t take your fancy, the hugely talented George Ezra is sure to impress. The English singer-songwriter rose to fame following the release of his hit single Budapest in 2013, which reached the top ten in numerous countries around the world. What makes Ezra so special is his soulful and wizened bass-baritone range, resulting in a voice that sounds beyond his 21 years. Fans of American folk/blues may also notice recognise hints of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie in Ezra’s music, who are said to be his musical influences.
Wanted on Voyage is Ezra’s debut studio album and was released on 30 June 2014. Radio 1 listeners are sure to recognise Did You Hear the Rain? and Budapest, both of which were regularly played on the hit radio station. Our favourites however are Cassy O’, a catchy pop-folk track which you can’t help but sing along to, Listen to the Man and Blame It on Me, the fourth single from the album. Breakaway, Song 6 and Leaving It Up to You are also worth a listen. If the songs (by some crazy reason) aren’t your cup of tea, it’s worth buying the album if just for the fabulous cover sleeve.
3. Sam Smith – In the Lonely Hour
Third on our list is Sam Smith’s new album, In the Lonely Hour. The award-winning artist shot to fame in October 2012 when he was featured on Disclosure’s breakthrough single Latch and has since grown to become one of the UK’s hottest artists. Like Erza, Smith has one of the most distinctive voices in the industry and his unique vocal sound has helped him to win a number of awards including the 2014 BRIT Critics’ Choice Award. James Bond theme anyone?
In the Lonely Hour is Smith’s debut studio album and was released in May 2014. What makes Smith’s album so special is that every track has the potential to be a single in its own right. Songs you’ll recongise include the lead single Lay Me Down, the dance track Money on My Mind and pop ballad Stay with Me which reached number one on the UK Singles Chart. We particularly love the tracks Like I Can, I’m Not The Only One, Leave Your Lover and Restart. The closing number Make It To Me is also equally brilliant with its gospel arrangement and killer guitar solo. If you only buy one album this year, make it Sam Smith!
4. Myles Sanko – Forever Dreaming
Next on list is Myles Sanko, a UK based soul singer recommended to us by Twitter follower Martyn Zarek (thanks for the shout-out @MartynZarek). After winning over the hearts of soul lovers across the world with his distinctive style, soulful voice and fresh contemporary sound, Myles Sanko’s latest album Forever Dreaming was crowd funded by his eager and fiercely loyal fan base, making it all the more special and well worth the £9.99 it is priced at.
Released on 12 September 2014, Forever Dreaming is Myles Sanko’s second album and his first official full-length studio album. It features 11 soulful tracks with a distinctive vintage feel. The title track Forever Dreaming is particularly good and is sure to have you hooked with its smooth vocals and up-beat Motown melody. Jazz fans should check out To My Surprise as well as the up-beat Save My Soul, Take a Look at Me Now and Shooting Star. Other tracks worth a listen include So Much Indeed, My Inspiration and Where We Need To Be, all of which are sure to soothe your soul.
5. Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit
Last but not least is Gregory Porter’s new album Liquid Spirit. The Grammy Award-winning American jazz vocalist may not have recorded his first album until he was nearly 40, but his rise to fame in the past four years has been astonishing. Fusing jazz and soul, Porter’s booming baritone voice boasts an earthy refinement that’s hard to ignore and helped him to win a Grammy in 2014 for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Liquid Spirit. We first saw him live back in July at BBC Radio 2’s Live in Hyde Park event and like the rest of the UK, have been hooked ever since.
Liquid Spirit is Porter’s debut studio album with Blue Note Records and follows two critically acclaimed indie label albums Water and Be Good. Packed full of gospel, blues and R&B numbers, Liquid Spirit is combination of tight songwriting, smart arrangements and poignant vocal performances and is one of our favourite albums of 2014. The title track Liquid Spirit is worth a listen with its deep, enveloping bassline and soulful horns, as is the energetic and up-tempo The In Crowd which is sure to get you moving. Jazz tracks such as Free sit alongside stunning ballads such as No Love Dying and Water Under Bridges. Our favourite number is Wolfcry, a beautiful ballad which shows off Porter’s smooth and silky tones to their best.
Don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments section below…