Stevie G: Irish soul and R&B on the rise

Minnie Marley: Her latest single, ‘Glue’, is probably her best yet.
Stevie G: Irish soul and R&B on the rise

LIVE music shows are at a minimum but thankfully the music industry hasn’t stopped completely and there are loads of new releases. I’ve been focusing a lot on the hip-hop scene in this column all summer and it’s been great watching the extra attention that Irish rap is now enjoying here and even abroad. At very close quarters there is also a very strong soul and R&B scene, littered with superb artists doing big things, and today I’ll focus on a few of the more recent releases.

My most recent soul article focused on the amazing Tolu Makay and her very strong 2020 continues with the release of her ‘Being’ EP on the Welcome to the New World label from Berlin. I called her a national treasure last time out, and this EP consolidates my opinion.

The seven-track EP showcases one of the best voices in Ireland over a number of introspective soulful tracks, including the recent masterpiece “Don’t Let Go”. Tolu is a great performer with a lot to say, and it should be remembered that, like many of the artists doing big things in soul music in Ireland at the moment, she is at the early stages of her journey. It’s very exciting watching her grow and this EP is well worth your time.

Another artist I’ve featured for many years here now is Erica Cody. Like Tolu, Erica has had a string of singles, and like Tolu, she was also very outspoken this summer during a turbulent time in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder.

Erica has a huge profile here and she is very respected both with and without the mic. Her sound is more of an R&B pop vibe with a bit of a hip-hop edge, and when I first met her a few years ago I told her it was almost as if she dropped from the 90s! Her new single, ‘Calculated’, features Hare Squad, and it’s just gone to number one on the Irish itunes chart.

Closer to home Minnie Marley has been bubbling with promise for the last few years. She has a dancehall vibe with a big South African house and afrobeats influence, and she can also do the soul/R&B thing pretty good.

Always a capable artist, Minnie seems to be a on a roll in 2020 and her producer, Billy GRC, is helping her establish her own sound. Her latest single, ‘Glue’, is probably her best yet, and it suits her style. Over a minimal groove, Minnie does her thing, and it’s a track with a slight house influence too.

Minnie always had great potential and I think she can maybe find a niche in a dancehall and afrobeats zone that isn’t overly populated here with artists.

On a different afro tip is Zeenie Summers. Zeenie mixes up pop and soul with a distinct West Africa vibe, and she brings a colourful exuberance to both her performances and her music. She is a fashion designer too with a very unique style. Her debut EP comes out this weekend and it’s a really cool mix of afro and soul that sounds both futuristic and traditional at the same time! Watch out for Zeenie!

Tomike is another outstanding young Irish singer with a Nigerian background. She’s released some really catchy singles so far and is perfectly equipped to build on some early radio success. I’ve put her ‘Nothing Special’ track on my new mixtape, which showcases the best Irish soul and R&B. She has since released another great track called ‘Whisper’.

Shiv has been making moves on the Irish music scene too and she has recently followed up singles ‘Golden’ and ‘Here’ with ‘You and I’, which is more of a slow jam and which is coming on her six-track EP that is due for release before Christmas. Shiv is an excellent singer and I’m really looking forward to the EP.

Closer to home, Drew Hall is on the excellent Hausu label from Cork, also responsible for the likes of Ghostking is Dead, ActualAcid, Automatic Blue and Arthur Valentine. These are all superb artists carving out some original music and Drew Hall is no exception.

His recent ‘Deep Blue’ single blurs the lines between soul funk and even borders on some psychedelic elements. He’s a really good songwriter and another one to watch.

This is all just a snapshot of Irish soul and R&B, and it’s great that there’s so much good music around during these uncertain times.

More in this section

Sponsored Content