Charlie Butler takes a closer look at the Mi-Soul playlist.‘I Want To Be’ – OmarOmar’s been going for a long time now and that longevity is testament to the consistently good material he puts out. Only the very best have careers that span the decades and his body of work goes all the way back. ‘I Want to Be’ is taken from his new album Love in Beats, his first since 2013, and it’s out on Freestyle records. It contains all of Omar’s hallmarks – a catchy melody, well-wrought harmonies and of course his soulful croon. The percussion varies throughout and it’s this mutability that makes the song stand out. It can be played anywhere, at any time and still sound right at home. ‘Heed the Message’ – Al McKay AllstarsFormer Earth, Wind and Fire member and producer-extraordinaire Al McKay has returned with ‘Heed the Message’. The track contains all of those hallmarks that made the 70s soul group such a sensation so it’s no surprise to learn that many of his Allstars have links to the band. From the disco vibe of the horns to the bass guitar’s bluesy rhythm we get everything that makes this genre of music great. ‘The song’s the message,’ said Al in a recent interview and on the chorus the uplifting lyrics gently urge us: ‘Don’t think twice when your feeling is right.’ It’s fun, it’s feel-good and it’s freewheeling – it’s the return of elemental soul music. ‘I’m the Baddest Bitch (Ricky Morrison edit)’ – Kathy BrownKathy Brown is one of those soul singers who really gets you at the core. The range of her voice, the depth of it – it’s what true soul music is made of. And here we find her where she’s most comfortable: belting it out on a full-blooded house track. She’s certainly come a long way from her former days in a choir because this song is perfect for any dance club’s headline slot. Brown meanders along on top of the ever-present treble of the drums. And the short appearance of a xylophone and then a bass guitar all add to the sense that we’re on a journey together. ‘Did You Ever’ – Wipe the Needle featuring Alex LattimoreLee Gomez heads the production unit known collectively as Wipe the Needle. Since 2005 they’ve been fusing a wide range of styles to create top quality house music. On ‘Did You Ever’ they’ve got Alex Lattimore supplying the vocals and, as usual, he’s smooth as freshly-planed wood. Throughout the song Wipe the Needle’s breadth of eclectic influences is evident. This is exemplified by the track’s Latin feel – Latin infused with jazz and house – and this brings with it a compulsion to dance, move and shake. The tempo’s fast, the pianos are alive and the whole thing is fresh.