Edition 4 of the now ALMOST famous neo-soul-electronic-alternative R&B PLAYLIST SERIES. With OSHUN, BANKS, BEA1991, Biig Piig, Velvet Negroni, UMI, Celeste, KAINA, Yuna, Polo, B-ahwe, Michael Kiwanuka and more! Reach for the rum (again).

Apparently, in the United States anyhow, ‘Dark ’n’ Stormy’ has been a registered trademark of Gosling Brothers Ltd of Bermuda since 1991. Like, you can’t mention other rums and the term Dark & Stormy in the same sentence, otherwise the Goslings will be ‘round your gaff, accompanied by some serious looking copyright lawyers. Scuppered!

Oh well, maybe keep the recipes for the discerning listeners mailing list. ;)

Meanwhile, on our cover for Vol. 4, elevated onto the platform, is this cool guy Velvet Negroni (track three on the playlist, the seriously moody ballad CONFETTI). But he is named after an entirely different cocktail. And even if it is the world’s best cocktail, it has nothing whatsoever to do with rum. So, we begin D&S4 in something of a muddle.

Then again, it does go to show that sometimes, you don’t need your ducks in a row to come up with something good. Cocktail recipes aside, we’d be better off letting the music speak for itself with this particular list. After all, we’re in the depths of summer, and we can leave the booze in the capable hands of the barkeep while we read the summer’s essentials and chill out to some truly excellent sounds.

Rather than take up too much time with words (and making up some ground after the false start) I’ve focused instead, on the song segues. On D&S4, one track flows into the other, all seamless like. Algorithms can’t do that. Can they? Just as you would never, ever – ever – purchase one of those ready mixed canned cocktails, even after your worse day at the office, you should never accept the idea of great songs simply dropped in a bucket. By a robot.  

So, here’s a tip. Go to your Settings (Spotify, Apple still not with the programme here), Playback, and set Crossfade somewhere between 7-10 seconds. Unless of course, you are funny about one track becoming another. Some folks insist on a gap, which is fine.

There’s always something to notice about the music selections that get onto Dark & Stormy. For our last volume (3!), it was the slow rap. In this edition, it’s the acoustic guitar, which has crept into the genre in the most beautifully insidious way. It’s one of the reasons for the resurgence of the guitar in pop music – but there’ll be much more about that to come. For the time being, kick back and enjoy yet another instalment of high-quality tracks - vibrant but with a dark undercurrent.

The highlights are almost too many to list, but here goes. We begin with a classic groove and some gentle attitude from OSHUN. There are two tracks (2!) from BEA1991 just because she has made what might just be my favourite record of the year yet. As mentioned, we’ve the killer track from Velvet Negroni – his forthcoming album something to be intrigued about. It’s different and we like it different. With BANKS Hawaiian Mazes next, those first four opening tracks set the tone nicely, before a more chilled intervention from Biig Piig.

A little further in are two beautiful covers. A lovely rendition of Coldplay’s ‘Magic’ by Laura Mvula, followed by JONES cover of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ – an anthem for this playlist series in many ways. Once we’re in deep, the acoustic guitars come into it – don’t miss Tiana Major9’s ‘DEAREST DYSTOPIA’ (HEY ARTISTS, WHAT’S WITH THE INCREASINGLY COMMON USE OF CAPITAL LETTERS IN BAND NAMES AND SONG TITLES?).

As if that’s not enough, we have a modern-vintage section featuring Black Pumas, Raphael Saadiq, Lady Wray, Durand Jones and a modern classic from The Roots. We’re always looking for the twist (of lime) on D&S and there is plenty to listen out for, from the Cuban horn blast that comes in the middle eight of KAINA’s ‘Green’ to the jazz-grooves of Ashley Henry’s ‘Between The Lines’ and breezier feel of B-ahwe, with (HERE WE GO AGAIN), LAUSSE THE CAT, with the track Blue Print, complete with namecheck to Sarah Vaughn. Brilliant.

The whole damn thing is just so very cool. There’s only one thing you can do to this kind of music. Whether you’re facing adversity, hiding under a blanket or hunkering down in a tent in a storm. Grab the rum – any fucking rum – and ginger beer, say goodbye to your troubles, or better, invite them in for a drink and say ‘cheers’, because I’m no longer troubled by you. Sarah Vaughn will indeed hold me up. I am sorted. Thank you very much.  


We do hope you are having a good summer.

BEA1991’s album Brand New Adult really is my favourite record of the year, so far. Velvet Negroni’s album Neon Brown is released 30th August. Raphael Saadiq’s new album Jimmy Lee is out 23rd August.

Rums I’m drinking (never ever with ginger beer and lime though): Red Leg, Dead Man’s Fingers, Sailor Jerry, The Duppy Share. And now Goslings, I suppose.