We’ve got a list of five artists that fall under the soul umbrella that we think are extremely underrated and deserve a bit of shine. Rox, Little Dragon, Peter Hadar, Jamie Woon and Emeli Sande and Michael Kiwanuka all represent true artistry with honest lyrics and haunting melodies that will change your iPod life. Nowadays, it’s easy to get overshadowed by the Beyonces, Lil’ Waynes and Lady Gagas of the world, but these pop sensations don’t represent everything that music can be. Maybe you haven’t heard of these artists, but we promise, you’re going to love at least one of them.
Rox’s music is contagiously soulful and speaks to almost every situation you’ve ever gone through if you’ve ever claimed to be in love before. With influences like Joni Mitchell, Lauryn Hill and Portishead, you can tell Rox is a mix of soul, blues and rock. Rox released her debut album, Memoirs last year and it’s a solid classic. Check her out here.
Standout Songs: “My Baby Left Me” and “No Going Back”
This Swedish band–Little Dragon brings a sound that is totally unassuming to their look. Their electronic grooves mixed with a trickle of soul and lots of funk makes for an intoxicating sound. The Swedish-Japanese lead singer, Yukimi Nagano’s voice has an Erykah Badu meets Tweet (remember her?) vibe. Their latest album, Ritual Union was released earlier this summer. The lead single (of the same name) is already in heavy rotation on my iPod.
Standout Songs: “Ritual Union” and “Recommendation”
Peter Hadar is the antithesis to Neo-Soul without totally rebelling against the smooth sounds and sultry lyrics that make up the genre. Peter brings Electro, soul and sensual R&B together for his unique sound. His influences range from Morris Day & The Time to Miles Davis to N.E.R.D. and his music is certainly proof of that. Peter’s always performing in the NYC area and releasing new singles–his latest, “Dancin'” makes you want to do just that.
Standout Songs: “Your Body” and “Full Time Lover”
It’s official, British singers can really grasp the soul of what American music lovers dig most about blues, soul and R&B. Jamie Woon laces his soulful vocals with samples and simple melodies that will grab you tight and make you stay to listen. Think Miguel meets Tracy Chapman. He’s already 4 albums in, so please do yourself a favor and check out his latest, Lady Luck, which was released this year.
Standout Songs: “Spirals” and “Echoes”
You may have already heard about Emeli Sande if you follow Alicia Keys on Twitter because she’s certainly shouted out the Scottish soul singer recently. Her sweet vocals remind you of Tori Amos with a little more flavor.
Emeli’s credits run deep,writing songs for major artists like Susan Boyle and Leona Lewis. She’s released her first single, “Heaven” and we’re patiently waiting on her debut album, Our Version of Events, set to be released later this year.
Standout Songs: “Easier In Bed” and “Maybe”
Michael Kiwanuka brings us music from the Mother Land. Live instrumentation with influences of jazz, soul, blues and a little gospel, Michael manages to soak his songs deep within his culture and create a perfect translation for our American ears. He’s got the perfect sunset music. If Sam Cooke and Seal had a love child, it’d be Michael Kiwanuka. His I’m Getting Ready EP is now available on iTunes.
Standout Songs: “I Need Your Company” and “Home Again”