It’s All Soul Day for Smith’s resident musical maestro Rob Wood. Here are this month’s picks…
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Good Things by Aloe Blacc
Tough times breed good music, and here’s a case in point. Born out of compassion for the homeless and jobless, Good Things is the dose of reality that hip hop so often needs. Acknowledging the hard times he sees around him, Orange County’s Blacc opts for positive social change over the glorification of personal wealth. Such anti-bling sentiment flows through the music as well as the words, with a contagious and refreshing jazz-meets-hip-hop-meets-70s-soul sound vibrating through every track. When rapping he’s convincing, but it’s his mature, soulful singing that feels so natural and echoes Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye, or the similarly socially conscious Curtis Mayfield. Lead single ‘I Need A Dollar’ has already crept up to be one of the songs of the year, and this album is sure to slow-burn its way to its rightful place as an understated modern classic, to be filed alongside Gnarls Barkley and Raphael Saadiq. It’s about time someone in music asked What’s Going On? again. Now they have.
Download Good Times now
THE SMITH CLASSIC
Lou Rawls’ career in music was so startlingly successful because he adapted with the times. Switching from gospel to jazz to early R&B to soul, he effortlessly picked up each style and made it his own, adding what Frank Sinatra called ‘the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game’. This well-conceived compilation focuses on his terrific ’60s and ’70s output. From the soulful ‘I Can’t Make It Alone’, to the funkier ‘Dead End Street’ and ‘Bring It On Home’, to the much-covered ‘Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing’, the hits certainly keep on coming. As an actor and voiceover artist he may have appeared in Baywatch and Garfield spin-offs, as well as the more redeemable Muppet Show, but it will be his voice that is remembered for being one of the most poignant and expressive of the 20th century. Go seek.