Italian guitarist/DJ/songwriter Nicola Conte works at the same swanky intersection of lounge, pop, acid jazz, hard bop, soul, and world music as folks like Thievery Corporation (who released Conte’s Bossa Per Due). The six different singers featured on Free Soul are the first thing to jump out. Rising-star singer Jose James is positively killing on the uptempo Conte original “Goddess of the Sea,” and Bridgette Amofah (of the dubstep outfit Rudimental) makes three appearances, pulling off the near-miracle of recording a version of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” that doesn’t sound kitschy. Conte is well known for his bossa nova work and offers up “If I Should Lose You” and “Sandalia Dela” in that vein. Other highlights include Hoagy Carmichael’s “Baltimore Oriole” remade as a Latin groove burner (with another great appearance from Amofah), while the African-ized bop of “Uhuru” is an original that sounds like a Blue Note classic. All in all, it's an excellent effort from a musician whose work continues to impress.