Were it not for Sharon Jones and those dastardly Dap Kings, we Yanks might really be shamed by New York expat Nicole Willis’ magnificent Finnish friends, The Soul Investigators. From the strings-and-stomps Northern soul dancers “Feeling Free” and “If This Ain’t Love,” to her funky title track, the rare-groove “Blues Downtown,” Willis covers the gamut of ’60s and ’70s-era soul and funk without ever placing a foot fully into the “retro” camp. Like Amy Winehouse or Miles Tackett, Willis’ soul music is thoroughly contemporary, despite its throwback instrumentation (Hammond organs, horns)–as you’d expect from someone whose previous credits include singing for Leftfield and Repercussions. Keep Reachin’ Up finally gets its much-deserved U.S. release, and we’re a better culture for it.