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What is a Qobuzissime? It’s an award presented by Qobuz for a first or second album.

Pop or Reggae, Metal or Classical, Jazz or Blues, no genre is excluded. More often than not the award is presented to a newly discovered artist.

Sometimes it might be a particularly quirky or a crossover album from a discography.

The important aspects are uniqueness, sincerity and quality. We look for these things in the recording, the project and the sound identity.





Albums

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Soul - Released September 24, 2021 | Roche Musique

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
Describing something as bewitching is often overused. However, with Kesiena Ukochovbara aka Wayne Snow, it is more than fitting. It only takes a few second to lose oneself in this ultra-sensual neo-soul blend from this fascinating Nigerian artist who grew up in Paris and lives in Berlin. A sprinkle of pop, a dash of electro and a few pinches of jazz a little later on (Kokoroko guitarist Oscar Jerome is part of the mix), Figurine turns the codes of modern R&B upside down by tweaking only the smallest of details. Produced by Frenchman Crayon for the Roche Musique label, the album is first and foremost a vast patchwork of past, present and future sound textures—like an Afro-futurism soundtrack that fires the legacy of Marvin Gaye and Sade into a completely new realm. Though Wayne Snow's main goal here may be to conquer his own cultural and musical identity, he is also striving to answer some of the wider question of our time. As for the feeling of bewitchment, this mainly comes from the fact that this soulman, rooted in the present, never ends up sounding like an umpteenth subpar Frank Ocean. Wayne Snow is an original musician, as he shows us with this phenomenal record. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Soul - Released July 30, 2021 | Masterworks

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
Look out, we've got a phenomenon on our hands! Naia Izumi is a young artist with a talent for pluralistic grooves; a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist who draws inspiration from the history of soul music as well as rock and jazz fusion. Diagnosed with autism at the age of 16, this Georgia native, now living in California, quickly focused his attention on culture, reading dozens of books and learning several instruments, the guitar first and foremost. Naia Izumi won the Tiny Desk Contest organised by NPR in 2018, attracting the attention of many different labels wanting to sign up this endearing and unique character. From the bass to the drums, the mandolin and even the koto (the plucked string instrument used in traditional Japanese music), Naia Izumi could do it all.Izumi's unique sound is very obviously influenced by Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill and Musiq Soulchild, but also by legends of progressive music such as King Crimson and, above all, jazz guitarist John McLaughlin, the mastermind behind Shakti and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. His powerful signature sound of elegant chordal constructions and arpeggiated melodies is entwined with his delicate, soulful voice. Naia Izumi’s main weapon of choice is his Fender Jazzmaster ’64, on which he favours a tapping technique over strumming or plucking. However, all of this stylistic and instrumental complexity never prevents his music from remaining organic and sensual. Everything flows perfectly on A Residency in the Los Angeles Area; deep and graceful. Here’s a tender, healing groove to soothe the wounds of the world. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Soul - Released May 21, 2021 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
Sensuality is one of the main prerequisites for all soul music, something which Erika de Casier takes to a new level. Before Essentials, her first album which was released on her very own Independent Jeep Music label, the Portuguese-born Dane specialised in bringing dark R&B to the fore as one half of the Saint Cava duo. For her second solo album, Sensational, released on English label 4AD, Erika de Casier talks more about her inner experiences, her regrets and her desires. At the heart of her stylistic make-up lies the legacy of her 90s predecessors, from Aaliyah to Janet Jackson and Brandy among others. And although these famous 20th century voices inhabit the Dane and her style, they certainly do not impede her from venturing into new realms of possibility and sound. Whether it's the Iberian guitars of Someone to Chill With, the violins of Acceptance or the distant UK garage vibes of Drama, this feather-light, cotton-wool-soft album is enhanced with hues which are rare in modern R&B. The fragility of her vocals and the elegance of the production (all co-produced/written with her partner Natal Zaks) make Sensational one of the most original soul albums of the time. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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R&B - Released January 29, 2021 | Transgressive

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Qobuzissime - Lauréat du Mercury Prize
The voice of a generation. We pinned it to Bob Dylan who didn't want to hear about it... Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho alias Arlo Parks reacted in the same way when we labelled her the spokesperson of Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2010) after Super Sad Generation, her 2019 EP. Once we move on from this marketing punchline, we can begin to savour Collapsed in Sunbeams, a brilliant debut album that slaloms between R'n'B, light pop and neo trip hop. This is without doubt the deepest record of early 2021... Before writing songs, the Londoner of Chadian, French and Nigerian origin mainly wrote poetry. A big fan of Sylvia Plath, Ginsberg and Nabokov, she was quickly drawn into writing, telling stories (often her own) even before setting them to music. With its title plucked from the pages of Zadie Smith's novel, On Beauty, Collapsed in Sunbeams emphasises Parks' literary passion, which she has now completely turned to music. She tackles break-up (Caroline), unrequited love (Eugene) and addiction (Hurt) with finesse and acuity. Her bittersweet melodies confront often melancholic, sometimes sad lyrics with natural pop energy and a hypnotic voice reminiscent of Martina Topley-Bird (Tricky's ex-girlfriend), Lily Allen (a fan) or Jorja Smith. At only 20 years old, Arlo Parks is the flavor of the month and is likely to be in the limelight for many years to come. A true revelation. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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R&B - Released October 2, 2020 | Haliblue Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
With Goldress, their first EP released in February 2020, Alban and Yvan, under the alias YellowStraps, had already set the bar high. On the album cover they posed like well-behaved school children, standing upright, heads draped in gold satin. The eight tracks of the well-conceived neo-soul record were full to the brim and echoed the likes of Maverick Sabre, Daniel Caesar and even King Krule. Such maturity at such a young age is rare! But it is important to note that the two brothers, who grew up in Uganda before moving to Belgium, had been immersed in the Brussels scene for some time, mingling with the likes of Romeo Elvis and producer Le Motel. Inspired by the 2020 lockdown, the duo undertook this new project for which they would produce one piece of music per day and collaborate extensively with other musicians online. The project, entitled Yellockdown Project, is a clear success with 13 tracks featuring guests from all over the musical sphere. From neo-soul to rap, this project allowed the brothers to broaden their musical horizons and open themselves up to future collaborations. The record features the likes of Crayon, Lord Esperanza and Jae Luna. The only difference from their previous record, Goldress, is that here the brothers take the leap to French lyrics on a few tracks, such as Raison, Visage, Frissons and Si Tu Savais. This record is a real gem which highlights YellowStraps' huge potential and puts the Belgian music scene back on the map. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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R&B - Released November 1, 2019 | Stones Throw

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
More than 10,000 kilometres separate Khartoum and Cleveland. A distance erased in one fell swoop by Brittney Parks, aka Sudan Archives, on her magnificent first album, Athena. At 24 years old, the self-taught American who grew up in Ohio builds some unlikely yet strong bridges between the sounds of the continents. And her contemporary, languid and dreamy soul is unlike any other… The violin, prevalent in the Sudanese music which she admires so much, is her tool of preference. It’s a sound that she meshes together with electro and some light hip hop beats. In 2016, Sudan Archives even covered Kendrick Lamar’s King Kunta (re-baptised Queen Kunta) using just her voice, the violin and an effect pedal. Her unusual musical fusions were conceived from a revelation the Los Angeles-based artist had while listening to recordings by the Cameroonian Francis Bebey, an artist who himself blended African music with minimalist electro. On Athena, released on Stones Throw, the excellent Californian label started by Peanut Butter Wolf which specialises in underground rap and kooky funk, Sudan Archives certainly draws on the legacy of the queens of underground soul (Erykah Badu, Solange) all the while retaining her originality. And her futuristic afro-R&B, which has layers upon layers of different sounds, shows enough avant-garde talent to make her stand out from the crowd. A shock, but a sweet one. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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R&B - Released May 10, 2019 | Jagjaguwar

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Qobuzissime
What is my purpose? What will come of the legacy of those who have influenced me? And what will I leave behind? These are all the big questions that Jamila Woods asks herself going into her second album suitably named Legacy! Legacy!, a Qobuzissime album! Three years after the release of Heavn, the soul sister from Chicago brings together twelve songs all named after the artists that influenced them. Musicians, painters, writers, activists, poets, they’re all there! And the lucky few are: Betty Davis, Zora Neale Hurston, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Frida Kahlo, Eartha Kitt, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sun Ra, Octavia Butler and James Baldwin. There is nothing obvious or didactic here as the young African-American who is ever-so attached to her native Chicago never does out-and-out covers but less subtle “in the style ofs” all while retaining her own distinct style. A poet one day (she acts as artistic director for YCA, a center dedicated to young poets) and a musician the other, she is even a teacher on bank holidays! As the worthy heir of Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, all her words are wrapped around ultra-slick grooves with a modernized nu-soul twist. When it comes to features, Jamila Woods helps her local economy by inviting along friends that, for the most part, come from the underground scene of the Windy City: the trumpetist Nico Segal, MC Saba, Nitty Scott, theMIND, Jasminfire. Chance the Rapper’s protégé has mixed intelligence and class, commitment, enjoyment and groove into 49 minutes. Perfect. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Soul - Released January 25, 2019 | Decca (UMO)

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
XamVolo’s shape-shifting debut album is stunning. At only 23 years old, the Londoner-turned-Liverpudlian infuses a delicate soul hemmed with jazz and pop in All The Sweetness On The Surface, a mix that was already well distilled in his two previous EPs, Chirality (2016) and A Damn Fine Spectacle (2018). It’s an ingenious record that stretches itself over fifteen diverse tracks. Everything changes, except his warm voice that remains well-attached to his lyrics, which he unfurls nonchalantly. Lose yourself in the voluptuous R&B which is shaped by guitar riffs, distant synths, softened choirs and the heavy tempo on the suave track Lose Love. Enjoy the well-cut jazzy brass of Feels Good, which samples from Thelonious Monk's Thelonious. Succumb to the elegant soul of Old Soul. Behind those round tinted glasses, Samuel Akinlolu Folorunsho has created the perfect neo-Soul setting. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Soul - Released May 27, 2016 | Polydor Records

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Qobuzissime
28-year-old Michael Kiwanuka's second album, Love & Hate, comes 4 years after his first, and with it, a more refined sound. The same soulful tones that gave Kiwanuka such a broad following remain the focal point of the new album, as do the lilting melodies and baleful lyrics, but thanks to producers Dangermouse and Inflo, as well as a huge supporting cast of musicians, this album manages to throw the punch we were promised by the first. Beginning with a 9 minute, Pink Floyd inspired 'opus', the album feels expansive and varied. It feels like a coming of age record, a musical maturation for this singer, who is already being hailed as one of the greatest voices around. Ranging from sweeping orchestral arrangements to melancholy introspections, this second effort seems more mature and measured, but remains a 'nearly' moment. Overdone and overloaded, this second album has lost some of the immediacy and realness that made the first stand out. Kiwanuka's voice is sometimes overwhelmed by the size and scale of the arrangements, rather than playing to his strengths. Nevertheless, the overall quality of the record will undoubtedly make it a big winner this year. RK/Qobuz
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Soul - Released June 23, 2015 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
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Soul - Released June 19, 2015 | Columbia

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
A simple glance at the album cover and 30 seconds of namesake track 'Coming Home' shows clearly where Leon Bridges is coming from. Following in the footsteps of Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson and especially Sam Cooke, this Texan songwriter of just 25 years is a walking mausoleum erected to the eternal glory of soul music. But Bridges is not just simply 'reminiscent' of these legendary artists, with his first album, released at Columbia, containing original music - truly impressive and instanly timeless material! Tidy compositions, worked and arranged with the same care that brought such success to his illustrious peers from the 1960s... Steamy ballads, sensual blues, and up-tempo gospel all have their parts to play here, as Bridges demonstrates a prowess well beyond his young years in every element of his music, singing divinely and somehow managing to be completely original from first to last. On arrival, Coming Home is a soul record that will take purists back to the heyday of the genre. Impeccable in production, and oozing class - one that will surely please fans far and wide.
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Soul - Released January 19, 2015 | Anti - Epitaph

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
At a time when indie-leaning music fans have discovered retro-soul and make records that capture all the sounds and practically none of the feeling of vintage R&B, Curtis Harding is a breath of fresh air: an artist with a real gift for classic soul music stylings but little obvious interest in nostalgia. Harding's solo debut, Soul Power, shows the man is one of the best new R&B singers extant, but even though the sound of these tunes certainly harkens back to vintage soul (mostly of the southern variety), Harding doesn't suggest he's slavishly trying to replicate the past. Instead, this music fuses the sounds of the '60s and early '70s while injecting them with an edgy energy that's solidly contemporary. Harding's phrasing is warm, flexible, and expressive without sinking into the frantic melisma that passes for R&B vocalizing in the 21st century, and on these songs, he sings with the band, not over them; his interplay with the musicians is smart and full of fire, and whether the music suggests the Rolling Stones ("Surf") or the Spinners ("Keep on Shining"), he sounds well-focused and respectful of his accompanists, who perform with a lean, determined authority on these sessions. Soul may be Harding's strong suit, but he's not afraid to rock out on "The Drive" and "I Don't Wanna Go Home" (guitars do dominate these arrangements), and the engineering and production gives these tracks a natural, spacious sound that flatters Harding and the band equally. Having worked with OutKast and Cee Lo Green, Curtis Harding knows something about soul music in the present as well as the past tense, and Soul Power is music that honors the rich traditions of classic R&B while keeping its head and heart in the here and now; some folks say you can't have it both ways, but Curtis Harding is here to show that's a lie. © Mark Deming /TiVo