Sounds Of R&B & Soul: Sammy Rae & The Friends, Daniel Aranda, SV feat. Alyssa Jane & Kevin Scott, Smoon, Sunkissed Child X Otis Mensah, Grace Love, Kailaya

R&B and soul are two of those classic sounds that haven’t wavered over the years, instead they’ve continued to evolve and branch out into exciting new frontiers. So without further ado, let’s have a listen.

This week, we’re starting on the more introspective side of the soul genre thanks to Brooklyn-based collective Sammy Rae & The Friends and the recent release ‘Closer To You’. This song is themed around a life-changing relationship, from its precocious beginnings of jaunty keys and playful melodies, through to the rich, soul-filled crescendo, before it all drops away into the stripped-back closing section. For a four minute recording, the ensemble manage to capture an entire life and death of a love connection ending in the secure, quiet resolve that being on your own is a path to self-realisation.

Follow Sammy Rae & The Friends on Instagram.

If you’re going to take on a song from one of the biggest music icons, then you had better make it your own. That’s exactly the goal of singer-songwriter Daniel Aranda with this delightful cover of Elvis Presley’s 1964 single ‘It Hurts Me’. Situated within the jazzy, bluesy and soulful sphere, the artist positions his own hard-earned sound at the centre of this modern version. It’s a truly stirring and emotional rendition, one that you can tell is straight from Aranda’s heart.

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‘Chill n Vibe’ is one of those tracks that doesn’t hide behind a vague or overly poetic title, instead this one sets the instructions for this laid-back listen from producer SV, featuring the soulful, stunning vocals of Alyssa and the animated presence of Kevin Scott’s saxophone mastery. This understated track combines layers of chilltronica, hip-hop beats, and lofi production that’ll evoke images of the dusk. We’d recommend adding this one to your study, chill or travel playlist for soothing vibes.

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One of the new names entering the alternative soul and R&B scene right now is the Oregonian up-and-comer Smoon, who draws inspiration from 90s hip-hop, 2000s pop-punk, and modern indie R&B. Since making her debut back in 2016, this artist has resonated with fans on both sides of the Atlantic, particularly in Northern Europe, where her pensive and progressive style connects more readily with audiences there. That same resonant sound can be found in Smoon’s newest track ‘Brink’, although it marks a development in the artist’s style as she combines her rapping abilities, catchy chorus, and an indie/alternative hip-hop vibe perfectly fitting the modern indie vibe.

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Let’s get back to the core of R&B with ‘Love N Attention’ from UK-based Lebanese artist and vocalist Sunkissed Child who invited the smooth lyricist and rapper Otis Mensah on board to accentuate to cool hip-hop shades of this new track. Like everything from this artist, it’s filled with sun-derived warmth and an earnest softness that gives off the coy flirtatiousness and subtle assertiveness that are embedded within the words. As you dive into the single, be prepared to go on a journey of desire, longing and love, possibly unreciprocated, but exciting and honest.

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Follow Otis Mensah on Instagram.

Next up we have Seattle-based Grace Love returns with an unapologetic and gritty new single ‘Broke’, an intense perspective on the game of love that plays out the full-on feelings with heavy drums, captivating bass and glitching sound effects. The discord and disfunction of these alternative sonic elements underneath the expected R&B motifs conveys the emotional, mental and personal toll that leaning into the tricks and ploys of courtship can have on a person. ‘Broke’ is a strong new addition to the artist’s upcoming Work In Protest EP.

Follow Grace Love on Instagram.

Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter, and dancer Kailaya is an artist of many talents, but for us it’s her new song ‘Blueberries and Pain’ that has captured our attention. Swimming in a haze of alternative R&B and indie pop, this new track walks the line between a vibrant sensation and intimate, self-reflective composition. It’s all about opening herself up to vulnerability and authenticity as a way to heal from within; that means being honest with yourself, taking the good (the blueberries) and the bad (the pain).

Follow Kailaya on Instagram.

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