There are rumblings of a revolution occurring in the R&B and soul genres. On one side, you have the more abstract artists, like Sa-Ra and Erykah Badu, who are re-creating and rebuilding these weakened genres. The latest effort from that camp was from Sa-Ra member Shafiq Husayn: Shafiq En’ A-Free-Ka, a psychedelic-tinged and sprawling work of genius. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have Maxwell and the growing Foreign Exchange collective.
It all started with 2008’s spectacular Leave It All Behind. And it continues with producer/multi-instrumentalist Zo!’s free EP, …Just visiting too. (You can download it here.) A mini-collection of cover songs, this project shows off the Foreign Exchange crew’s versatility while breathing new life into these R&B and soul classics. Increasingly impressive with his vocals, Phonte offers a stellar take on Bobby Caldwell’s “My Flame.” And Yahzarah sounds perfect on both “Perfect Angel” (Stevie Wonder) and “Somethin’ Special” (Quincy Jones and Patti Austin).
Zo! is no slouch on the production end. Nearly every instrument utilized, from keyboard through vibraphone, sounds expertly played. The only flaw musically comes via the drums and bass, which would have fleshed out the music had both been given a boost. Otherwise, …Just visiting too is an worthy collection of R&B and soul with a more mature bent.