Archives for posts with tag: Corinne Bailey Rae

Album Review: About Time, Sabrina Claudio (SC Entertainment, Oct 2017)

Sabrina Claudio uploaded some songs on Soundcloud in 2016. About a year later, she had completed a full-length album and was chosen as Apple Music’s ‘Up Next’ featured artist. About Time has 12 original tracks, all with Claudio having first writing credit.

Beats, lush electronic arrangements, and Claudio’s vocals characterize the album’s sound. There are similarities to more balladic outings from Corinne Bailey Rae and Lianne La Havas but Claudio definitely stakes her own musical ground in the realm of R&B/Soul.

“Frozen,” a classic slo-jam at its heart, is at the same time sultry, thanks to Claudio’s wispy vocals and sparse production. “Wait” is one of my favourites right now. Distinct from most other tracks on the record, it is interspersed with bossa and almost junglist beats. “Used to” resembles Drake’s “Get it together” from his More Life mixtape (Ovo Sound, 2017), mostly because of the same basic drum track but also because of the vocal production overtop.

One might gloss over Claudio as just another ingenue in an already crowded field. In fact, what sets her apart is her songwriting and musical sensibility, well beyond her 21 years.

Album Review: ManMade, Zo! (The Foreign Exchange Music, 2013)

manmadeWhen I stumble upon an artist like Zo! I’m amazed at how dangerously easy it is to be completely unaware of great music around us. Despite following R&B/Soul trends since the dawn of ‘urban music’ back in the early days of D’Angelo and Erykah Badu, I only just discovered this great talent from Detroit who has been recording and producing music for more than a decade.

Lorenzo “Zo!” Ferguson’s back catalog sounds like “a study in smooth.” His melodies, arrangements, beats, and production are innovative and reveal a deep talent. Going back to his 2006 release, Freelance (Chapter 3hree Verse 5ive Music) a track like “Detroit Districts Pts. I & II” demonstrates an easiness with jazz improvisation, an adeptness with R&B and Soul sensibilities, and a tastefulness that steers the music clear of gimmicky, so called Nu Jazz.

With his latest release, ManMade (The Foreign Exchange Music, 2013), Zo! continues to deliver quality tracks with a fresh take on soulful R&B. His lead track, “The Train” featuring Sy Smith is a breezy melody remeniscent of Corinne Bailey Rae. “Count to Five” featuring Gwen Bunn is another great melody but also distinct in how it plays with two-step rhythms. Tracks like “Making Time” and “Out in the World” use innovative basslines and electronically influenced arrangements.

In this sense, Zo!’s work resembles but does not mimic, his fellow Detroiter, Amp Fiddler, who I most recently posted about. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given a musical pedigree that includes Motown Records, the birth of techno, and J Dilla. Zo! and Amp Fiddler are creating some of the finest urban music of the day, proving that an embattled Detroit still has much to offer.