Zo! ManMade

Zo! ManMade
8
I'm not sure who influenced who first, but Zo!'s latest album is definitely a continuation of the sound Foreign Exchange fans have come to love. Much like his labelmates, Zo!'s manufacturing process relies heavily on tremolo-rich keys, funky synth leads and drums that consistently knock. And, as a concept, ManMade speaks to the independent musician's embrace of do-it-yourself principles, something the multi-instrumentalist is the poster child for. For vocal help, the album enlists the usual FE Music suspects, such as Phonte, Carlitta Durand, Sy Smith & Jean Jolly, as well as other modern soul contemporaries Eric Roberson and Choklate. Standout moments include the 5/4 time signature-driven "Count to Five," with 21-year-old 106 & Park frequenter Gwenn Bunn, the punctuated ensemble horns of "Making Time" and the title track, which weighs the notion of divine guidance versus personal autonomy and self-determination. Any concerns of ManMade sounding more like a compilation of contributors rather than an album are quelled by Zo!'s cohesive musicianship. While some songs shine more than others, this is an album built to play through and provide a listen that lovers of envelope-pushing soul are sure to enjoy. (Foreign Exchange)