Category Archives: Album Reviews

Joonie, “Contrast”


What do you get when you come across an artist that has the sound of 70’s, 80s, and 90s R&B Soul with beautiful melodies and smooth vocals?  You get an artist named Joonie with a masterpiece of a sophomore album called, “Contrast”.

Calvin “Joonie” Gary, Jr. is a singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and producer based out of Los Angeles, CA. He is also a multi-instrumentalist who plays most of the instruments on his latest album.

“Contrast” is the ultimate love album.  Songs like “Wish Her The Best (Delilah, Part 2)”, “No Tears” are songs about ending a relationship, however, they are written with such love and care that you can’t help but feel good when listening to them.   If someone were to leave you, you would want them to think and feel this way about you at the end of it all.  Joonie is such a gifted songwriter that he places the listener right in the midst of what he is singing about. “For You”, “Far Away”, “Official” and “Life’s Better” are a few of the many standouts of the album.

The vocal arrangements, instrumentation and production on “Contrast” are tight and effortless. This album has such a lovely sound and vibe to it that you can’t help but reminisce about the songs of the old days. Songs that actually have song structure and nuances that are missing in today’s music. Joonie is a true artist along the lines of Prince in that he produces, writes and arranges his own music. You should really check this album out and spread the word! This music deserves to be heard. Check out the music below and let us know what you think!

“Contrast” is available on iTunes and on his official website here and here.

Music Video: “For You” by Joonie

“Far Away” by Joonie

New Music: Carmen Rodgers – Stargazer


Singer, songwriter Carmen Rodgers has just released her new album, “Stargazer”!  Dallas TX native Rodgers who is currently based out of Atlanta, GA, has been blessing us with her sound for a few years now. You may mostly be familiar with her as part of The Foreign Exchange crew or you may have heard from her last two offerings, “Free” and “The Bitter Suite”, EP.  

Rodgers’ rich, full and soulful vocals stand front and center on each song of “Stargazer”.   She can sing anything and she proves it on songs like “Stay” and “Love Stories”.  These songs are the most beautifully arranged on the album.  Her voice soars along with a 14-piece string section in those songs and it is absolute heaven.  I loved that she incorporated this into her sound.  It just showcases her vocals even more.  Her lead single, “Heartless” is a banger and is what we have come to expect from her.  Soulful, funky vocals with a bumping track.  It’s very effective and has defined her sound overall.   “Beyond the Stage” is a nice groovy and smooth joint that is on constant repeat here at Soulster Vibes.  “Charge”, is a lovely duet featuring singer, songwriter, Anthony David.  It definitely should receive airplay on contemporary R&B radio.  Actually the whole album should receive airplay, but I digress.

“Stargazer” is a must-listen and such a well-rounded offering from Carmen Rodgers.  Another album from an indie artist that you can listen to straight through.  Support GOOD music people and go get this!  Also, she is currently touring in support of this album so be sure to check her out in a city near you.

If you already have heard “Stargazer”, share your experience below!

“Stargazer” by Carmen Rodgers is now available on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby.

Official Carmen Rodgers Website

Carmen Rodgers and Anthony David performing, “Charge” in Atlanta, GA

Dangerfeel Newbies-Hariet

Hariet Cover

Hariet by Dangerfeel Newbies is a brilliant concept album inspired by the story of Mr. Dangerfield Newby, one of five African-Americans of the John Brown party.  I love music that entertains, inspires as well as teaches listeners something of value.  Dangerfeel Newbies is based out of Atlanta, GA and consists of Jamal Ahmad, (DJ) Mark Angel (DJ) and Darren Wagner (DJ, Keyboardist, Musician).

Hariet’s sound encompasses so many genres such as House, Soul, Funk, Jazz and a little Hip-Hop and it all flows together effortlessly.  When Hariet opens with the smooth jazz feel of“Hariet’s Theme” and goes right into the groovin’, “You Make Me Something” featuring Lamaj, you know you are about to embark on a wonderful wave of music.  Songs like, “Shine” featuring Mashan Da’Lyric,  and “Swinging with the New Jacks” are so melodically refreshing and uplifting.  They both either make you want to dance or nod your head to the rhythms in appreciation.  The world renowned vocalist and jazz artist, Julie Dexter is also featured in “I’ve Got To Live My Life”.  A lovely song about making a change, her voice and the track just take you away.  It’s just beautiful.

If you haven’t heard of them yet or you have and haven’t had the chance to check this album out, please just do it.  You will love this album.  It should serve as a collector’s item for all of the real music heads out there.  By the way,  take the time to research the rich history of Mr. Dangerfield Newby and his story.  This is a perfect example of music entertaining us and bringing somewhat obscure information about our history to the forefront.  Check out Hariet and let them know what you think!

Dangerfeel Newbies, Hariet is now available on iTunes

Dangerfeel Newbies Official Website

Dangerfeel Newbies, “Shine”

Dangerfeel Newbies, “Always With Me”

The Rebirth – Being Thru the Eyes of a Child

REBIRTH_Final_Album_FrontCover_4Empire-275x275If you want to hear timeless music from a GREAT Soul/Jazz band, then look no further. The Rebirth is that band. They have just released their highly anticipated sophomore album, “Being Thru the Eyes of a Child”. Just like it’s predecessor, “This Journey In”, this album is such a classic piece of music.

The Rebirth is a seven member band that hails out of Los Angeles, CA and is led by producer, keyboardist and vocalist, Carlos “Loslito” Guaico. Members of The Rebirth are lead vocalist, Baskerfield Jones, Mark Cross (keyboards, vocals), Nikki Campbell (percussion), Patrick Bailey (guitar), Chris Taylor (drums, vocals), and Daniel Seeff (bass guitar). Their signature sound consists of jazz, soul and funk.

I was introduced to this band by hearing their single, “Everybody Say Yeah”, on a local radio station here in Atlanta (Jazz 91.9 FM WCLK) back in 2006. I became an instant fan then and made sure I attended one of their shows when they stopped in Atlanta. All I can remember was the cool vibe and so much awesome music from that show. It was crazy! I danced my butt off that night. That show was easily a good three hours but no one cared. We were encouraged to let go and feel the music..and we did just that. Since then their debut, “This Journey In” has been on repeat in my life’s soundtrack for years. I waited so long for this album and even heard rumblings of a break up at one point. But alas, The Rebirth returns and  releases this album.  It is certainly worth all of the waiting that their fans had to endure.

Being Thru the Eyes of a Child” is a sonic kaleidoscope of rich vocals, crisp instrumentation and atmospheric sound effects that when pulled together brings the listener into a different dimension. Songs like, “Religion To Me”, “Caterpillar” and “By Design” are examples of this. Baskerfield Jones‘ soulful vocals are a perfect complement to the music. She adds her own swagger and funk to the lead single, “This Is Coming To?” and “Wasteland”. “Come on Over” showcases Jones’ vocal versatility and is so beautifully executed. Even though they have a lead vocalist, you still can’t help but feel that this is truly a band and there are no stand outs. The Rebirth is a band in every sense of the word. All work together and each member has talents that they bring to the table to make this band great. “Being Thru the Eyes of a Child” is definitely an album you can listen to straight through. Every song on here is SO good. I’m sure true music heads will find themselves going back and listening to the many nuances they provide in their sound.  Check them out and support this music.  If they roll through your city be sure not to miss them.

Being Thru the Eyes of a Child” is available now on iTunes
The Rebirth Official Website

Check out the video for the first single, “This Is Coming To?”


New Music: Live Hart – Honesty

Live Hart_Honesty While doing my usual perusing for new music, I came across this lovely artist, Live Hart. She recently debuted her new album, Honesty and it pulls you in from the first track. Based out of Orlando, Florida, Live Hart is a singer, songwriter and guitarist, who’s sound is reminiscent of Tracy Chapman, Dionne Farris, India Arie and John Mayer.

Honesty is an uplifting and pure listen about hope and love. Feel good songs like the reggae tinged, “We Can Change The World” (one of my favorites on the album) offer hope, while songs like the rocking, “Take Me” and “Release” serves as empowerment anthems. Love is always at the heart of us all and songs like, “What is Love?” (love this track), gives you that and more. This album is a wonderful introduction to Live Hart. I look forward to hearing more from her and once you hear Honesty, I’m sure you will as well. Check her out and let Live Hart know your thoughts! Support GOOD music, people. This is it!

Honesty is available now on iTunes
Live Hart Official Website

Check out “What is Love?”  below:


Check out the video for the first single, “Please Don’t Say It’s Over” below:

Music Review: Ledisi – The Intimate Truth

intimatetruth-ep Hey Soulsters! Ledisi has just released her new acoustic EP, The Intimate Truth! This seven-song offering showcases Ledisi’s music from her album, The Truth, which was released last year.

If you have ever heard Ledisi, you know that she will never disappoint. She has one of the most dynamic voices in the game today. So when this EP was announced, I looked forward to hearing how she could blend that powerful voice in with an acoustic sound. The songs are great and she kills every note. No one can touch that voice and what she is able to do with it. Her vocal acrobatics are incredible. However, The Intimate Truth is not an acoustic album in the true sense. When you think of acoustic you think of voices blending in with the guitar, piano and percussion in a way that it is all one sound. Ledisi’s voice is so powerful that it overshadows the instruments. I would have just loved to have heard her soften her sound if she was going to do an acoustic offering, otherwise, The Truth could have just stood on its own. The songs that stand out the most to me, are “Like This”, “I Blame You”, and “Lose Control”. If you enjoyed The Truth, you will definitely enjoy this EP. Ledisi does what she does very well!

The Intimate Truth is now available on iTunes and Amazon.

Ledisi Official Website

New Music – Black & Sexy TV: “That Guy Mixtape Vol. 2”


So while on hiatus I’ve been on YouTube following my favorite web series, Black and Sexy TV’s, “That Guy”. Let me tell you this series has me on the edge of my seat literally! It follows the every day ‘hood adventures of best friends, Judah (as seen through his camcorder), Deon, and Mike along with a supporting cast of colorful and real characters that round out this playful and engaging series. This is an independent production written, directed and produced by the super talented Jeanine Daniels, who also plays Deon. I have fallen in love with this show and can’t wait to tune in every week. The season finale aired last week and boy was it a doozey!

While watching this series along with many of the others (“Roomieloverfriends”, “Hello Cupid”, “Yellow“) that Black and Sexy TV offers (for free I might add), the music lover in me just couldn’t help but find myself groovin’ to the music that plays throughout each episode. I mean, the music is really off the chain and accompanies the scenes so well. If I’m not mistaken, I believe Ms. Daniels also has a hand in choosing the songs that will be in the show…if I read the credits correctly. Well she definitely knows music, what’s hot and how it can frame a scene. Many of the songs highlighted throughout the series serves as a platform for incredibly talented independent artists to have their music heard on the popular YouTube channel. Black & Sexy TV is giving these artists much needed exposure and love which I can certainly appreciate.

Now they have released free downloadable mix tapes for their series’ in the past and this current release is the second for “That Guy”; it’s also the best one so far. It has a mix of Soul, R&B as well as Hip Hop. I was so happy they decided to put out a soundtrack to this particular episode. These songs are bangin’ and I’m sure there was a high demand for the music from the fans this go round. Songs like, “Love Love” by Belvi, “Slip Away” by illCamille, “Cravings” by GTW and Befang, and “Crusin’ Down LaBrea” also by Belvi are my standout favorites on this offering. Just real chill and laid back sounds and vibes. Love it!

You can find the free downloads for the “That Guy” Mixtape, Vol. 2 here as well as free music downloads for their other shows. Good music and it’s FREE! Is that awesome or what?

Check out the Black and Sexy TV channel on Youtube here. The season finale is available here. This episode is $3, however, it’s 45 minutes long and if you are a fan of the show, it’s definitely worth that and more. Support these folks and what they are trying to do with independent film and music!

Love Love by Belvi

Album Review: Amel Larrieux “Ice Cream Everyday”


Hey Soulsters! Finally Amel Larrieux’s latest release, “Ice Cream Everyday” has seen the light of day! If you have been following this blog and me on Twitter, then you already know that I have been highly anticipating this album along with many other fans.

“Ice Cream Everyday” reintroduces us to Ms. Larrieux in fine fashion and reminds the fans of why we missed her. Her angelic vocals serve as the necessary backdrop for the tracks provided and not the other way around. When listening to this album I tried to imagine the actual music without her voice and I just couldn’t. Her vocals are so intricately woven into the music, so layered that they are all one. I love how this has been consistent in all of her projects and has become her signature sound. Not many artists today are successful in doing this. Amel Larrieux’s vocal arrangements are complicated, beautiful and for a lack of a better word, “Sick”.

Songs like “Soon”, “Berries and Cream”, “Moment to Reflect” (one of my favorites), and “See Where You Are” are examples of this. Speaking of “See Where You Are” this song spoke to me the most. I’m sure many others listening to the lyrics can identify with the message Amel is conveying. It pulls at the heart of those of us who are trying to discover our purpose and passions in life. This song asks you to basically re-evaluate your life. When she ad-libs the important question, “Do you like it?”, you can’t help but feel the energy and mission of that song. It definitely stirred up emotions for me. “Orange Glow” really showcases her vocal prowess. I didn’t realize she was capable of hitting those notes!

I absolutely loved this album and enjoyed it from beginning to end. It’s a little off the beaten path as far as sound but that is why I enjoyed it so much. Amel Larrieux has stayed true to her art and her fans which is so important in today’s cookie cutter music rat race. These are the artists that I will continue to support. Welcome back Amel!

Amel Larrieux – You Don’t See Me

Ice Cream Everyday available on iTunes and your local independent record stores.

Album Review: The Foreign Exchange – Love In Flying Colors

lifc (3)

Ok, Soulsters, here we go! The dynamic duo Nicolay and Phonte, otherwise known as The Foreign Exchange, are back with their 5th offering, Love In Flying Colors. Let me first say, that I have been waiting anxiously for the next piece of music from them for quite a while now. If you have read anything from my past postings on this blog, you would know that I am a huge fan. I must say that after a few listens of this album, it took a little longer for me to get into it than any other FE album.

As usual these guys are not playing with the tracks and vocals throughout this album. The layers they provide in each song is incredible. Instrumentation and vocal arrangements are definitely more prominent in this album than in the previous offerings. This shows the growth and their intention to move forward from their “Connected” beginnings. We now have strings, guitar and live percussion which give a lot more fullness to the music. Songs like the ballad, “Listen To The Rain” is a beautiful example of this. It totally envelopes you and takes you to a hopeful place. This song has wings and as the music soars you feel like you are being swept away. I wish it were a little longer than 3 minutes, but hey, what can you do? This song is one of the best songs on the album. Why is it so short? Phonte sounds wonderful as usual here. He has come into his own with his vocals and his style has become more nuanced. He is carrying the vocals on each song on Love In Flying Colors and he is more than capable to do so. His voice fits in every track that Nicolay lays down for him which is why these two mesh together so well.

The Foreign Exchange would be nothing without its supporting cast of vocalists that round out the sound for each album. Vocalists like Carmen Rodgers, Sy Smith, Gwen Bunn, and Jeanne Jolly bring the songs to life. This formula is as old as time, however, it definitely works. The women give the songs a wonderful feminine balance against Nicolay’s bass heavy tracks and complements Phonte’s vocals. I have to tell you my absolute favorite track on this album is the House inspired, “Can’t Turn Around” featuring Gwen Bunn. OH MY GOD!! I swear I got chills throughout my body when I first heard this song. I couldn’t stop moving and I couldn’t get rid of the ugly face while grooving to it. I actually shouted when it ended. Nicolay put his FOOT in this track from beginning to end and in between. Like I mentioned before, the layers of instrumentation and vocals are certainly present in this track. “The Moment” is a fun track as well that reminded me of the early 90’s dance hit, “Finally” by CeCe Peniston. This track is very reminiscent of that dance sound, but updated. I absolutely love the first single, “Call it Home”. This is another song that takes me somewhere else. The Foreign Exchange is really good at doing that to me…and I love it!

With all of that being said, this album is a must have for the fans and a welcome addition to The Foreign Exchange catalog thus far. The main complaint that I do have about Love In Flying Colors is that it only has 10 songs. 10 short songs. I really wish this album could have had more songs on it. FE has been promoting this album for months and I really expected more of a song selection. In that way, this album really came up short for me. Call me selfish, but I just wanted to hear more from my favorite group.

The Foreign Exchange Official Website