August 3, 2010

Zo! - Sunstorm (Review)

Now a full week since the release of Michigan native, Lorenzo Zo! Ferguson's Sunstorm, I've finally decided to drop my two cents amongst the others on the net. For me, the album starts off where Little Brother's - Getback ends. "Greater Than The Sun" ft. Phonte, the opening track on Sunstorm kinda has that feel of "When Everything" also produced by Zo! minus a few bpms. With it's infectious groove and a crooning Phonte on the vocals it's just a real feel good track that sets the mood for the journey into the rest of the album.

Laced with a heavy assortment of elegant keys, synthesizers, guitar riffs, rhythmic drums and a jazzy soundscape, Zo! fills his music with great lyrics, soul & harmony via artists from the Foreign Exchange Camp (Yahzarah, Darien Brockington, Carlita Durand...) along with a few worthy and known outsiders from the indie scene (Lady Alma, Sy Smith, JBIII...).

On "Greatest Weapon of All Time" ft Sy Smith, Zo! brings out the latin flavor near the tail end which subtly changes the uplifting vibe, but makes you want to break out into the samba. Good move.

From the onset of the track "Be Your Man" ft Darien Brockington will instantly take you back to Mtume's - Juicy, but Zo! brings in the keys so quick to flip the funk and create a slow smash for D-Brock's passionate vocals. The electric guitar at the end just elevates the track to another level. Classic!

The title track, "Sunstorm" ft Yahzarah, delivers another heater that's sure to have the ladies hype and the fellas heads nodding up in the club. Yahzarah's honey like refrain cruises perfectly over the ill synths and melodic bass line Zo! composes.

Changing the pace and sound is the lounge type vibe of "If I Could Tell You No" ft Jesse Boykins III. Zo! proves his keys game to be well rounded delivering an easy flowing jazz composition - something I'd expect to hear from the likes of jazz pianist and vocalist, Jose James.

"All is Well With Love" ft Chantae Cann of Jaspects fame is a winner all around. Figuratively speaking, the track seems to illuminate. There's a magical feeling that surrounds the energy on this track. I believe it to be the wind chimes  that weave in and out in addition to the entrancing sounds of Chantae Cann floating throughout like a butterfly.

The magic doesn't end there, but this review does. I love the album overall. However, I would've like at least 2 more songs, 1 with vocals and the other a rousing instrumental with 3 shifts displaying Zo!'s versatility & musicianship. Also, the sequencing of the tracks could've played better had it been structured like a cassette with the uptempo tracks on side A and the mellow to slow on side B, and the Lady Alma track, "Free Your Mind" as a bonus. Still, Sunstorm is a must have for lovers of great music.

My respect goes out to Zo! for accomplishing this project in the manner he did. According to the interview w/Fave of the FFC, the bulk of this project was done via file sharing. How difficult a task that is, I don't know, but he makes it sounds seamless as if the artists where right there in the studio with him. Success & Respect Zo!

UPDATE! Zo! and RCRD LBL has teamed up to give away another banger off the Sunstorm album. "Greater Than The Sun" ft Phonte. Click here for your free dl, and if that doesn't encourage you to purchase the album, then you just FAIL!

Zo! - Be Your Man ft. Darien Brockington

Zo! - All is Well With Love ft Chantae Cann
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