The Heavens Shower us with Sky Break by Zo! (Album Review)

In an interview with Zo! keyboardist and co-producer for famed The Foreign Exchange, he described SkyBreak as his most personal album to date.  Counted as his third album on FE Music label, SkyBreak is number sixteen of his published catalog!  Now if you’re new to Zo!, rest assured that his latest album raises not only his own bar, but that of the independent Soul or R&B genre as a whole.  His competitive nature has resulted in yet another musical, 10-track cornucopia stacked with the vocal talents of Tamisha Waden, Phonte, Muhsinah, Shana Tucker, and one of last year’s most underrated artist and wildcard, Dornik. Furthermore, the album boasts familiar voices such as Carmen Rodgers, Eric Roberson,  Sy Smith and legendary Dungeon Family affiliate, Joi (Gilliam).  In short, SkyBreak is a composer/producer compilation that you sure as sunrise do not want to sleep on.

While you may be tempted to compare SkyBreak to previous albums such as ManMade, Sunstorm, or any of the Just Visiting albums, such a deed will be fallacious at best.  However, common threads throughout Zo!’s work are musicianship, nods to musical pioneers/genius, and a song dedicated to someone that starts with the word “For”.  This time around Zo! dedicated the track to his father.  For the music geeks, Zo! continues to employ lesser used time signatures and live instrumentation, both rare characteristics in any genre of today’s quantized, digital compositions.  As for the nods, here’s a hint, one is to Leon Sylvers III   When asked about remixes, Zo! said, “Cats are gonna be all over “Steal My Joy” ft. Tamisha Waden”.

Laced with thought provoking lyrics in songs such as “A Season” ft. Eric Roberson, and a page from someone’s diary in the form “Wishing You Well” ft. Carmen Rodgers, there’s something on the album for everyone.  By the way, Muhsinah shines brightly and educes the stank face with her vocals on “Packing For Chicago”!  Although the expected eight to ten-minute sexy composition was not included on this record, the intensity of the Funk was amplified with tracks like “Just Whatcha Like” and “Starlight”, an obvious nod to The Whispers with Phonte on lead vocals.
Due for release on May 20th of this year, Zo! teases his fans with the single release and touching song, “Lifelines” featuring Dornik and Phonte.  The lyrics can be found here.  As usual, listeners can expect three things from Zo!, consistency, quality, and a challenge to listen more intently.  Get you a copy of SkyBreak directly from Zo!’s website.  By the way Zo! expects to be busy as usual with The Foreign Exchange’s “Tales from the Land of Milk & Honey Tour” before adding the “Sky Break Tour” which he hinted will be fun and nothing shy of epic.

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