Soul In The Hole is a tribute to multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lees favorite soul sounds through the eras. Featuring guest-appearances from Paul Butler (The Bees), Nicole Willis, Darondo, Karime Kendra, Fanny Franklin, and Kirin Lee, the album is an homage to styles from the late 1960s to the 1980s. “Writing and recording this project felt so natural. It was like coming home,” says Lee. “The great Richie Havens famously once said "I'm going back to my roots." That's exactly what I've done,” he adds.
He hand-picked his global selection of guests like the amazing Paul Butler (of The Bees, and currently working with Devendra Banhart) from the Isle of Wight, who appears on a track that is part Shuggie Otis, part Style Council mod. Northern Cali’s old school man of soul, Darondo is featured on two tracks, and the super-talented Nicole Willis, hailing from Finland, drops a Northern Soul shaker.
The title track features Lee on vocals and has a late 1960's Detroit stepper vibe. Two crackly-southern-ballads feature Fanny Franklin and Karime Kendra, the latter pulling off a deep version of a little-known Al Green/Willie Mitchell ballad. Lee teams up with his wife on the cosmic funk of “The Stuff,” “ I was thinking of the late 70's jazzy sophisticated productions of Roy Ayers. It reminds me of the UK rare groove scene of the late 80's early 90's,” he says. And there are even funk-rock and sunny Miami disco styled sounds to complete the chronological nod to the past that is mixed with just a touch of the present.
Recording tracks over a period of a year or two, Lee edited the final album to just a handful of his favorites that best moved through the eras. He liked the idea that having 4 or 5 tracks per side was just like the old LPs that had inspired him, “All killer, no filler!” he jokes.
“Soul music has always been a strong part of my musical identity. It resonates deep within and never fails to inspire me. So many great artists, singers, musicians and producers. An endless well of essential music,” says Lee. “Cue Soul in the hole...for the masters who've come before and touched the world with their soul.“
This is Lee’s first all-vocal album for Ubiquity. Previous releases have featured some vocal collaborations, but have mostly been instrumental, library-record style releases. The unstoppable Mr. Lee has more collaborations on the horizon, including a funky-harp record and putting the finishing touches to an album recorded with Money Mark and Tommy Guerrero under the name Lord Newborn & The Sugar Skulls.