R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

2009's Soulful Best

28 DEC 09 DAVID NATHAN

We heard some stellar soul and R&B recordings in 2009. Here's a recap of some of Concord's best offerings.

Teena Marie's first major label release in a while, Congo Square brimmed with the soulful magic with which she is associated, thanks to cuts like "Can't Last A Day," "Baby I Love You," a brilliant duet with Howard Hewett called "Lovers Lane" and my own favorite, the jazzy "Harlem Blues."

Will Downing gave us Classique, one of the most satisfying albums of his career thanks to outstanding cuts like his versions of "Statue Of A Fool," "I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby" and the standout "I Won't Stop" -- covers of tunes originally done by David Ruffin, Barry White and Gary Taylor respectively. Original tunes like "Something Special" and "Let's Make It Now" sealed the deal.

All-4-One came back after a hiatus with No Regrets that contained my favorite track of 2009 -- an a cappella "You Don't Know Nothin'" -- pure vocal, harmonic magic. Saxman Najee brought us another strong set with Mind Over Matter, featuring guest vocalists Eric Benet and Gary Taylor who added some special flavor. And neo-soul singer/songwriter N'dambi's major label debut, Pink Elephant, won big points thanks to cuts like "Nobody Jones" and "L.I.E."

The year ended on an up note for me with the release of Angie Stone's sophomore Stax album, Unexpected. Start to finish, it is a winner with special mention for "Maybe," "Why Is It" and "I Found A Keeper" among personal favorites. I'm thankful that Concord kept the soul flag flying in 2009.

in this playlist.