What’s up, Brolonation? KB coming back at you with some music recommendations, but this time, we’re talking Soul Music. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has stated that soul is “music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular testifying.” Soul music is intertwined with the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s, as prominent Black Americans were able to express themselves or find comfort and joy through Soul Music. With the current state of our country and the Black Lives Matter movement, perhaps we could all use a little more soul music in our lives.
Check out Brolonation's Modern Soul Playlist to hear all our favorite songs from the list below!
As a white-boy, born and raised in the Golden State, who has lived a life relatively free of hardship, I admit I’m not very qualified to talk about Soul. But hopefully I can make up for some of my under qualification with enthusiasm and passion. Credit mostly goes to my step-dad for introducing me and Colin to soul classics like James Brown, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Etta James, and many others. But thanks to the variety of music available at our fingertips nowadays my tastes have been free to grow on their own. So I present to you here a number of my favorite modern soul artists. While nothing will quite live up to the “Soul Greats,” of the 50s and 60s, my hope is that this music will bring you some solace and comfort during the remainder of the wild ride that is 2020. And I hope by listening to some of this new soul music, we can develop appreciation and respect for the Black artists and culture that led the way in developing this wonderful genre of music.
1) St. Paul & The Broken Bones ~ 950k monthly listeners
St. Paul & The Broken Bones is an eight piece soul band, who might just be the closest thing we have on this list to traditional soul. Formed in 2012 out of Birmingham, Alabama, St. Paul & The Broken Bones’ sound is reminiscent of the great classics. With a powerful and unique lead vocalist in Paul Janeway, the necessary horns, and a solid foundation of drums, keys, guitar, and bass, St. Paul & The Broken Bones has all the ingredients to brew up a delicious batch of soul goodness. I’m absolutely in love with the gospel-esque soul music exploding out of these guys and I honestly can’t get enough of the package it’s delivered in, either. The combination of exuberant passion, quirky energy, and Alabama charm of their frontman makes it so you can’t help but like the guy. St. Paul & The Broken Bones released their first album, Half The City, in 2014 and continued to release their next two albums, Sea of Noise and Young Sick Camelia, in 2016 and 2018. All three albums to date are consistent through and through with some high energy grooves, but also the slower ballads that pluck at your heart strings.
2) Kyle Thornton & The Company ~ 80k monthly listeners
This talented seven piece soul collective out of Boston, Massachusetts offers a unique sound that uses elements of the classic soul genre in conjunction with many more modern features. From laid-back rap verses sprinkled over their soul sound to truly modern lyrics (“Love Tryangle”, “making friends with your read receipts”), KT&TC has found a way to use these fun components of today’s music to complement the things I love most about soul music. This combination has allowed me to enjoy that soul feel in an entirely new way. All band members met during their time at the Berklee College of Music and with that comes a certain set of challenges, as the seven individuals find their own path through life. While the future’s not entirely clear for Kyle Thornton & The Company, they’ve given us two albums already and the frontman is now making music out of LA, in a number of different capacities, under the name of Floyd Fuji. Check him out!
3) Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics ~ 60k monthly listeners
“Deep, raw funk. Stax-style Southern soul. Positively uplifting & Original Motown-channeling anthems.” If that doesn’t get you going, then you’re reading the wrong article. The more I listen to Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics, the more they grow on me. Originally formed in Gainesville, Fla (any Less than Jake fans out there?) before moving to the bustling music scene in Atlanta, Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics are growing in popularity quickly. Propelled by Ruby Velle’s dynamic voice, which offers plenty of classic motown croon and sultry growl, I’m convinced the band will achieve great success. Make sure you check out their debut album “It’s About Time” and their sophomore album “State of All Things” and follow along as they continue to develop their sound, separating themselves from the soul-revivalist stage and hopefully becoming a pillar of soul on their own.
4) Son Little ~ 100k monthly listeners
A shoe in for this modern soul list, Son Little’s music takes all the characteristics of classic soul, and spins them into something beautifully “Nu”. As a staple of the “Nu-Soul” genre, he takes advantage of technological advances through the use of electronic vocal layering and modulations to provide his own refreshing sound. Somewhat stereotypically for a soul singer, Son Little was born the son of a preacher in Los Angeles, although Son Little, aka Aaron Livingston, calls Philadelphia his adopted hometown now. His debut, self-titled full length album was released in 2015 and held his first hit “Lay Down” on which his voice really shines on top of the perfectly simple guitar backdrop. Little has since released two additional albums: New Magic (2017) and aloha (2020) both of which are superb. There’s something incredibly genuine and heartfelt about Son Little’s music that is not easily found in today’s music scene. I highly recommend putting his tunes on, sitting somewhere out under the stars with good company and just letting it all wash over you. A good time is guaranteed.
5) Black Pumas ~ 1.4mil monthly listeners
Singer/songwriter Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada makeup the Black Pumas who are one of my favorite finds of 2020. No one would have guessed that such wonderful music would come from this interesting combination of a seasoned guitarist/producer who had bounced around a number of different projects for 15+ years and a young talent with limited experience beyond his gospel upbringing, high school theater, and busking on the west coast. When listening to the Black Pumas, it’s easy to think of soul greats like the Temptations and Otis Redding, but the Black Pumas made it clear in an interview with Rolling Stone that they “didn’t really set out to be a soul revival band or anything like that... [they] wanted the soul to be that it came from our soul, not so much a carbon copy of any particular era or artists.” If you ask me, that sums up the gist of Brolonation’s Modern Soul playlist right there. With their debut, self-titled album (June 2019), the Black Pumas received a grammy nomination for Best New Artist at the 62nd awards. And I expect there will be many more awards in this bands promising future.
My other favorite modern soul bands who are included in our playlist and will be discussed in a follow-up blog post! One youtube link is provided here to wet your whistle.
- The Dip - Sure Don't Miss You (Live)
- The Brook & The Bluff - "Masks (Live)
- Curtis Harding - "Need Your Love" (Official Video)
- Earl St. Clair - Good Time
- Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings "Stranger To My Happiness
Once again, thank you for taking the time to check out our content! If you want to sample the music above, I made a playlist on Spotify which are linked below. Follow us on if you want more. And please let us know what you think about the artists. There’s nothing I enjoy more than hearing that people have found a little joy in some of the music we’ve recommended, or discussing with someone who perhaps did not enjoy the music and learning why.
Spotify > Keenan Burt > Brolonation’s Modern Soul
Brolonation's Modern Soul
--The Burt Brolos Better Brother
P.S We have more Brolonation Music Recommendations where that came from!
P.P.S. This research was sponsored by YourConcertKure. Check them out if you want to be notified of up-and-coming bands hitting the LA music scene, whenever that happens again.