Contrary to what you may be hearing on much of terrestrial radio, 2013 was an amazing year for music - especially soul music. Seriously. There was such an abundance of great music, in fact, that narrowing down the best soul sounds released in the past 12 months for my annual list was no easy feat. That said, here's a look at my 13 favorite albums (arranged in no particular order) and my reasons for picking them in 140 characters or less.
Omar, The Man: The legendary vocalist dropped an album that's true to his trademarked classic-soul-meets-the-future style and an evolution of his sound.
Snarky Puppy, Family Dinner Vol. 1: Snarky Puppy's latest makes the list mainly because of Lalah Hathaway's vocal capoeira on a rearranged version of "Something."
Diggs Duke, Offering For Anxious: With the piano-driven songs on his self-titled album, Diggs Duke embraces the past of soul and jazz - then burns both genres to the ground.
Earth Wind and Fire, Now, Then and Forever: Bypassing the notion of trying to keep up with current trends, EWF instead gives us the big, bright sound we know and love.
Giovanca, Satellite Love: Mixing disco sounds with love-struck ballads, Giovanca serves up a world tour of soul via her sweet and crisp vocal stylings.
The Foreign Exchange, Love in Flying Colors: Hip-hop/soul duo the Foreign Exchange made an electronic-based album sound warm, ultra-funky, and, frankly, pretty.
Bilal, A Love Surreal: Always offbeat and emotional, Bilal mixes rock, hip-hop, jazz, and soul for the year's craziest, sexiest, and coolest album.
Laura Mvula, Sing to the Moon: Disconnected from typical influences, singer Laura Mvula's debut album is a sonic surprise - sounds like nothing else.
The Internet, Feel Good: The Internet excels at channeling the essence of classics like Off the Wall, while still managing to sound modern.
Jose James, No Beginning No End: The deep-voiced singer is known for jazz, but this time around, he brings a dump trunk full of soul to his beautiful neo torch songs.
India Arie, Songversation: Cynics beware: India.Arie's newest is sweet, hopeful and anything but dour. And if that's uncool, then something's wrong with the world.
Elements of Life, Eclipse: Producer/DJ Louie Vega and friends soar with an organic, energetic collision of house, Latin, soul, and, hell, the kitchen sink.
Heston, Love Junkie: ATL's own Heston flavors his usual croons with Caribbean spices for arguably the best work of his career.
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