TRIZONNA McCLENDON: New Familiar (Label: 4 The Soul )

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Trizonna McClendon hails from Chicago and ‘New Familiar’, it appears, is her second full album. The CD’s stated aim is to create a music that “is like nothing you’ve heard before, but everything you’ve heard and more”… and, I guess, Trizonna’s succeeded. Throughout the album you’ll hear flavours that will recall classic soul stylists and styles but the lady’s sharp – often abrasive tones – make it all sound quite different. Maybe better to explain with some concrete examples. ‘Shatter Proof’ is one of the LP’s best cuts… ever so catchy. Its central reference point is clearly the burbling, synth-led soul of outfits like the SOS Band, but Ms. McClendon’s quirky vocal freshens it all up. ‘Love Electro’ has a similar feel, while the album’s loose and jazzy title cut would have made a good vehicle for Anita Baker but the vocal offers an edginess that was always absent in Ms. Baker’s smooth style. ‘My Special’ is another good cut – a catchy and crisp understated beater that will surely appeal to the UK’s modern soul room rug cutters and the Latin-esque ‘Find My Way’ has its own charm too, stemming chiefly from the almost whispered vocal playing around the languid flute fills. The cuts I didn’t quite connect with were ‘Didn’t See It Coming’ and the dance mix of ‘My Special’. That one is right out of context with the LP’s overall feel while the former is something that Tina Turner might have made a hammy fist of twenty years ago. ‘This Is My Range’ – a demo style ramble – is enigmatic too and sits rather oddly before that dance track … but maybe that was the plan… helping to crank up the quirkiness. ‘New Familiar’ is quirky. If pushed to sum it up I might say that (with some obvious exceptions) the bulk of the music here sounds like Macy Gray does old school soul – but without the histrionics… and if that doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what will.
(BB) 3/5