When Amy Winehouse’s music cut through the addictions and the headlines, she pioneered modern British soul music. Frank blended jazz and UK beats, before Back to Black allowed her to explore demons, dicky men and drink like a buzzy Shangri-La from Southgate.
 
After her death, Michael Kiwanuka was the first post-Winehouse British soul-singer to make waves with both the critics and the charts in the same way again.
 
Despite Adele’s global domination with big voice, retro-tinged pop, Kiwanuka took up where Amy’s posthumous album – Lioness – left off. Home Again was a proper soul record: smooth Philly Sound production, Terry Callier guitar jazz and British vocals; capturing British mainstream audiences so much he took No. 4 in the album chart and the BBC’s Sound of 2012 to boot. His latest tune – a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Waterfall’, currently drifting around online – shows his lush skill for stripping a song down to its purest distilled form.

Away from album chart recognition and Sunday Times must-sees, are a string of American artists reviving the soul underground.
 
Gregory Porter has been forging his own kind of 21st-century Technicolor jazz cool, and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Tones have been rocking the horns’n’riffs Stax sound for ages.
 
A new comp, Snowboy Presents: New Vintage, (on Barely Breaking Even Records) shows there’s even a real appetite for properly “period-influenced” vintage – whether it’s Latin, rare groove, mod or northern. After the only real new stuff to come out of the northern scene (not the most progressive scene it’s fair to say) was tacky Ian Levine-produced cover versions of the classics, this is something special.
 
Pushing things in another direction there’s Valerie June. The Tennessee-born singer-songwriter has been busy mixing up her own strange brew, what she calls "moonshine roots music": Buffy Saint-Marie vocals, Erykah Badu blues, jazz and Americana. The horn section on new song ‘Workin' Woman Blues’ tells us she’s on to something good. 

.

These artists are too far apart to build a scene. But their growing success does tell us that audiences in the charts, as well as the soul-jazz-folk'n'roots undergrounds, are looking for something a bit more honest.
 
Something with a bit more soul.

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