‘ManMade’ Album Review in The COCO Magazine

ManMade by Zo!

Source: The COCO Magazine
Author: Ann Marie Collymore

The Foreign Exchange camp holds a great reputation for releasing nothing but goodness. They steady deliver quality mood music, party music, vibe out music – you name it, they have it. The latest project to come out from the FE camp is the stellar album ManMade by producer, writer, and multi-instrumentalist Zo!

From the first track all the way through to the last track, ManMade is a roller-coaster ride of trip beats (which is short for trip hop beats), house, soul, and hip hop – all produced and written by Zo! Not only is the album written and produced by Zo!, but he also manages to outdo himself and play pretty much all the instruments as well. The result is an album that not only holds your attention from the start, but also has you leaving the entire CD on repeat.

The skip along, feel good vibe of ‘This Train’ featuring Sy Smith as well as the simplicity and sing-a-long catchiness of ‘Count To Five’ featuring Gwen Bunn will turn the grouchiest of persons into a gold dust sprinkling fairy. All right, it’s not that altering, but it sure does come close. Chokolate and Phonte’s ‘Making Time’ is very sexy. Particularly, with Choklate cooing:

“flow it up just keep it nice and steady/yeah/I miss your kisses and for you I’m ready/Yeah/you don’t have to make the time it’s already here/so when you gonna come and get it? “

The delivery in her come-hither nuances, flow sweetly over the hard drumbeat. ‘We Are On The Move’ featuring Eric Roberson will bring the house fever out of you, even if you’re not a house head. Step, spin, soul clap and repeat. You dig?

Zo!’s project ends on the usual quiet storm accent, with Sy Smith laying it down slowly and provocatively  on ‘Body Rock’.

For a fair evaluation of the album, every track deserves a full out mention. Artistic growth is always anticipated, and Zo!’s growth surely is reflected on ManMade. Each song is touched with brilliance from each artist, while Zo!’s vision, ear, and production show no signs of letting up – giving you exactly what you need. The album is deservingly riding the Billboard charts and is already a favorite for many. Feel the groove.


‘ManMade’ Album Review via AllMusic.com

Source: AllMusic.com
Author: Andy Kellman

One sign of a great album is when its last track is as stimulating as its first track. “Body Rock” ends Lorenzo Ferguson‘s second album for the Foreign Exchange label with eight minutes of heavenly, faultlessly crafted quiet storm. Thirty-eight minutes earlier, at the beginning, there’s the deeply contrasting “The Train,” a blissful machine-soul jam where Ferguson displays mastery of the synthetic and the organic. Those highlights feature two of Sy Smith‘s sweetest and best vocal performances, and they surround a high quantity of strong songs. Make that stronger songs: while ManMade has much in common with 2010’s fine SunStorm, this particular set of relaxed and mature R&B is a little more complex and nuanced, yet the instant appeal remains. As with Ferguson‘s previous album, the moods here are predominantly romantic and relentlessly positive, even when it briefly confronts the pressures expressed by Phonte in “Out in the World.” ManMade features some of the same collaborators, including not just Smith and frequent background and foreground presence Phonte, but also Carlitta Durand and Eric Roberson, the latter of whom leads the sophisticated twilight funk of “We Are on the Move.” Whether the leads are supplied by labelmate Jeanne Jolly, the higher profile Anthony David, up-and-comers Gwen Bunn and 1-O.A.K., or underexposed veterans like Choklate and Carmen Rodgers, the album maintains an easy elegance and never derails. For all the help he receives, this is Ferguson‘s show. On each track, he’s credited with either “all instruments” or “all other instruments,” which means that he played everything but some flute, horns, and percussion. ManMade is a complete work — his best creation yet.

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Grown Folks Music Reviews Zo! + Sy Smith in New York City

Sy Smith & Zo!: One of Them Nights

By Al-Lateef Farmer

Thursday nights are meant for many things: payday, preparation for the weekend and Happy Hour among them, but for “Rock, Paper, Soul” and Drom, it is cause for getting down. Fortunately for those that dodged raindrops on Avenue A this particular Thursday, Sy Smith and Zo! commanded the bandstand with a singular goal…set the party off!

Taking the stage in front of their band, the duo seamlessly weaved between their respective solo albums and collaborations through the years, kicking off with a rendition of “Nights Over Egypt” that made any unsuspecting concertgoer aware of the business at hand. Showcasing a rare mix of musical marksmanship, impeccable vocals, interactivity and a unique feel for the audience, Sy and Zo! I want to be clear, they didn’t simply stand in front of a drummer and guitar players all night, their band consisted of the requisite drums and bass, but also included a flute and sax as they fronted on dual keyboards.

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