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Sounds of 2020: A Terrible Year and its Stunning Music

By March, it was clear that this year was going to be bad. Now we know this whole pandemic thing will drag on for a long time. In spite of it all, brilliant music was recorded this year.

Berlin, November 5th, 2020 (The Berlin Spectator) — Warning 1: There is a wide variety of possible side effects you may notice when you listen to breathtaking music recorded during this bad year. They include being mesmerized, dancing, cheering, as well as a sudden production of happiness hormones.

Warning 2: This is about Funk, Soul, AOR (the stuff they call ‘Adult-Oriented Rock’), Jazz and tunes that were influenced by these genres. Uplifting quality sounds are the focus. All of them were recorded in 2020, and most of them are at least partially British.

Young Gun Silver Fox ‘All This Love’ (2020)

‘Canyons’ was released this year, the third album by the group Young Gun Silver Fox, consisting of the American multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lee and the British vocalist Andy Platts. They stand out, also because they are bringing great AOR tunes back to where they belong, namely the present. Shawn Lee, who is also known as a video game producer, is the mastermind of the project. Mama’s Gun was the name of Platts’ former band in which he was the lead singer before he teamed up with Lee. Together, they are modern day AOR heroes.

Citrus Sun ‘California Soul’ (2020)

Here, Citrus Sun, a British Jazz-Funk group that consists of the rhythm section of Jean-Paul Maunick’s band Incognito and guest artists, teamed up with the legendary vocalist Noel McKoy this year in order to record a energetic version of Ashford & Simpson’s classic ‘California Soul’.

Light of the World ‘Heart to Heart’ (2020)

The British Jazz-Funk act Light of the World delivered brilliant tunes in the 1980s. Some of the members got back together this year for a new album entitled ‘Jazz-Funk Power’. This tune, ‘Heart to Heart’, is part of it. One of the band’s main contributors, slap bass hero Paul ‘Tubbs’ Williams, died in 2007. His shoes are hard to fill, in many ways.

Francisca Thomas feat. Incognito ‘Fall Into My Love’ (2020)

In this case, the Soul and Pop singer Francisca Thomas gathered with Incognito and the gifted composer, arranger and producer Richard Bull. The outcome is this funky song entitled ‘Fall Into My Love’. Do not miss the interesting breaks that start at 3:01.

The Heavytones & Dave Davis ’80 Millionen’ (2020)

The Heavytones from Cologne are one of Germany’s best Jazz-Funk acts. In this case, they teamed up with vocalist Dave Davis. By recording ’80 Millionen’, this tune sung in German, they might reach new target groups and introduce them with stunning, uplifting music of high quality.

Till Brönner & Bob James ‘Save Your Love for Me’ (2020)

Now we are entering Jazz territory. Germany’s gifted composer and trumpeter Till Brönner cooperates with the legendary American pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader Bob James. ‘Save Your Love For Me’ is a sophisticated and convincing Contemporary Jazz piece and the only partially German entry in this list of tunes.

Jarrod Lawson ‘Be the Change’ (2020)

The former piano tuner Jarrod Lawson has become one of the most impressive vocalists, pianists and composers of our time. This is the title track of his new album ‘Be the Change’ that has hit the top of several Soul and R&B charts on this planet. Stunning is the right word here.