Various Putumayo Presents Global Soul

Putumayo’s latest venture into compiling global sounds brings together the far-reaching influence of R&B, soul and hip-hop music on a decidedly more continental European scene. In addition to this, the roots of the African Diaspora — everywhere from Tanzania, Cameroon to Senegal — lend an even more eclectic touch to the already interesting mix. But as this is the sound of "global soul” the label does not restrict itself to R&B courtesy of the African Diaspora. Witness Korean rap artist Yoon Mi Rae whose vocals shift from Korean to English with sensual ease, capturing the influence of hip-hop on Seoul’s music scene. There is plenty by way of French contributions here from Melgroove and Doc Gyneco but it is heartening to see Cameroonian vocalist Kaissa whose track "Nika Pata Lamba” is one of the highlights of the album, as well as Joy Denalane’s cool German effort "Hochste Zeit.” The only UK/U.S. presence here is 1 Giant Leap featuring Speech and Neneh Cherry on "Braided Hair” — which sounds a little too giddy and saccharine to be taken seriously. Other than that, Global Soul is a fine introduction to the global R&B culture and shows that the scene need not be dominated by kitschy, overly glamorised commercial "black music” for an eager white audience. If anything, the most empowering tracks here come from Senegal, Cameroon and Tanzania — something the commercial North American scene can pick up from. (Putumayo)