For his Summer 2010 release, SunStorm, Zo! has set quality control to Pixar levels, delivering a consistently brilliant album on which each and every cut demands repeated play. It’s a unified producer’s album from an artist with an educated soul sensibility and the desire to make contemporary music, rather than yet another tired exercise in retro.
And it’s certainly not just another Foreign Exchange album under a different name, not that I’d be complaining! The album may kick off with an FE soundalike in the Phonte starring Greater Than The Sun, but this feels like an entry-point for those unfamiliar with Zo!’s previous solo work who may have purchased the album through that Foreign Exchange connection. It’s a great introduction to SunStorm and a damn fine track to boot but it gives way to an album that is altogether more musically soulful and jazzy than the equally awesome Leave it All Behind.
It’s rare that an album with so many guest vocalists plays like a solo album, but SunStorm achieves this. As producer, instrumentalist (the keyboard playing is just fire!) and writer, Zo!’s musical personality is deep in each and every tune on the 12-track album. Cream cuts include the jazz-funk of the Mizell Brothers tribute, Flight of the Blackbyrd, the rare-groove of Greatest Weapon of All Time (with the irrepressible Sy Smith), the deliciously stretched out jazzy bedroom goodness of MakeLuv2Me (with one of the best vocal performances on the album from Monica Blaire), the 4hero sounding Free Your Mind (with Lady Alma on vocals) and the future-soul meets vintage Bobbi Humphrey of Say How You Feel / For Leslie. But it’s all good. Very good.
SunStorm is a 2010 love note to classic soul and jazz funk which warrants comparisons with legends like Roy Ayers and Quincy Jones for its ability to convey a singular musical vision despite an extensive (and impressive) cast list. It’s an album you NEED in your collection and one we’ll be talking about as a candidate for 2010′s best come December.
You can buy downloads and CDs at the Foreign Exchange Music Store. Tell ‘em SoulCuts sent ya! Spread the love!
And take a listen to the whole album right HERE!