Various Artists - Chocolate Soul Compilation III (2007)

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    Alright Soul Tracker, you've been following the nu-soul/r&b scene for the last few years. However, time, money or both don't allow you to hear or see many artists you've been dying to check out.  Or better yet, you have become a music maven among your friends.  You amaze them with how you can turn them on to great new songs and musicians they've never heard of.
    You, of course, come to our website to stay up on the hot new artist releases yourself (but we won't give away your secret). 

    The third disc in the Chocolate Soul Compliation series has arrived to turn any listening space into a hip, ahead-of-the-curve music haven (that's first time I've used maven and haven in the same review; I promise not to work ‘raven' into this.)  Play this disc while carpooling and be warned, you will be answering the question "who is this now?" for your entire commute.  Make sure you  take the time familiarize yourself with the artist on each song, so your air of cool expertise stays bonafide.

    What makes CSC-III really progressively-minded, musically, is the mix of major label and independent artists (with most of its playing time given to the indies).  While the passengers in your car may recognize the voices of Fatin & Aja, (the husband and wife, respectively) of Kindred the Family Soul; they will be ‘so open' when you play "Don't Be Afraid" by Cooly's Hot Box.  They will be equally impressed with your knowledge when you tell them that Cooly's female lead is singer-songwriter-producer Angela Johnson, who has two solo albums under her belt.  Chocolate Soul's producers also realize that no conversation about nu-soul bands can leave out the West Coast phenomenon known as "The Rebirth" and their beautiful mood piece, "Sinkin'".

    Another treat on this project is "Crossrhodes" that combines the talents of DC's new prince of soul Raheem DeVaughn, and another force on the DC music scene, W. Ellington Felton.  Joining with them is one of the biggest names on the L.A. indie soul scene, Sy Smith.  (You'll get more cool points by telling you friends that she was the one who sang the theme song to the TV series Soul Food along with the legendary Al Green.) 

    Chocolate Soul Compilation is a ‘can't-miss' weapon in any fledgling nu-soul music connoisseur's collection.   That along with a Riesling and good friends definitely soothed this chocolate soul.

    By Les Clarke