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22nd Century Soul

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Natalie Gardiner: Trouble In Mind
Taken from the Trouble In Mind EP on Ramjac (2004)

Natalie Gardiner: Can’t Quit You Now
Taken from the 12″ on Ramjac (2005)

It’s easy to get lost in old soul tunes. (When I say lost, I mean literally lost. My living room looks like the forgotten underbelly of the New York Public Library.) Part of it owes to the high quality of the music that came out of the 60’s and 70’s, and part of it, as any wax fiend knows, is the hunt itself–the quest for that hithertofore unknown or long forgotten gem that will set the heart and/or dancefloor afire.

But every now and again it’s important to remember–and I believe this deeply–that we are living in an immensely rich musical period right now. Truly great (and innovative) soul music is being created as we speak. Steve Spacek, J*Davey, Badu–this is the real deal ish. So what if it’s not getting radio play. It’s our jobs as music lovers to seek it out for ourselves. You wouldn’t blame a crack dealer for not reaching his market; the onus is on the fiend to get his fix.

All this is just to say that, dipping back into some of my more contemporary finds, I rediscovered these Natalie Gardiner tracks and was reminded like WOAH! This is some heavy soul music.

These tracks come from two separate 12 inches released prior to her debut LP (which dropped last year, I believe). I haven’t actually heard the whole thing, but I think it’s pretty safe to say it’s well worth your $15–that is, if you can find it. Sadly, few publications (print, internet or otherwise) have offered much in the the way of hype.

The producer, a Swede by the name of Ramjac, obviously knew what he was going for with Ms. Gardiner: super stripped-down, moody, broken beat instrumentals that accomodate the purity of her melancholy vocals. Just plain good stuff.

Dig on!