Various Artists

Downtown Soul from the Nashville Indies

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According to the title, this is a collection of 20 downtown soul tracks released by various independent Nashville labels, and it is that, but it’s really more uptown soul, because there’s a lot of Nashville sweetening going on in these cuts, from strings to horns and choirs, and there’s some jazz and country DNA tossed in there, too. The end result is pretty smooth and it isn’t much like Memphis soul at all, and sounds more East Coast in temperament. Highlights include Rufus Hunter's elegant “Caught Up,” Roscoe Shelton's sincere “What Is It Baby,” and a cool instrumental version of Bobbie Gentry's “Ode to Billie Joe” that was arranged and recorded by Bob Holmes, one of Nashville’s greatest arrangers.

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