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About this playlist

Everyone knows what retro soul is: It's a post-millennial singer reviving the traditions of rhythm & blues and pop from the middle of the 20th century. Their music is purposely antiquated.

But what if a singer's voice sounds thoroughly current, even if the backing band does not? The result isn't the kind of deep funk frisson perfected by Daptone Records stars like Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, and Charles Bradley. Instead, there's Leon Bridges, the Texas singer who has been compared to Sam Cooke, but actually sounds closer to R&B stars like Usher and Trey Songz while performing over '60s-inspired backbeats. Aloe Blacc is another who's often compared to Cooke. And what about The Weeknd? The Canadian lothario's pained falsetto is clearly a product of our postmillennial age, but there he is on "Earned It," over a pendulous orchestral arrangement seemingly inspired by Burt Bacharach & Hal David.

It's not a new trend. Amy Winehouse deserves credit for bringing retro soul with a modern flair to the mainstream with her 2007 classic Back to Black, and then Adele conquered the world with her brassy '60s pop homage 21. But before them, there was Faith Evans' "Mesmerized," a deep-cut gem from her 2005 album The First Lady. Other memorable examples include R. Kelly's 2010 Love Letter homage to '60s soul, Solange's 2009 single "I Decided," Melanie Fiona's "Bones" cut from 2012's The MF Life, and Alicia Keys' cover of Brenda Holloway's "Every Little Bit Hurts" from her 2005 Unplugged set. This playlist spans the lot.

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