Trizonna McClendon New Familiar

I've been digging Chicago, IL-based Trizonna McClendon ever since she dropped her debut in 2007, the underappreciated Overtones & Innuendoes. As its title suggests, the album offers original songs, yet these are grooves that listeners have most likely heard before. That's not to say that this is a warm bath of nostalgia, since there's a plethora of styles explored here: from the sparse early '80s electro funk throwdown of "Shatterproof" to the Edith Piaf paean "This Is My Range" (which hauntingly sounds like it was recorded in Paris in the '30s and '40s) to the folksy vibe of "A Song For Teena," with McClendon comforting a troubled friend. Despite such genre hopping, New Familiar is a remarkably cohesive triumph, with thought provoking lyrics, crisp production, which in many cases honours the past without sounding dated, and most notably, McClendon's mature and tasteful vocal flourishes. At one point, she sings: "The press has compared me to Minnie/Her high notes I don't hit any" and although McClendon doesn't have the range of Minnie Ripperton yet, she's on her way. (4 the Soul Reciprocity Inc.)