Zo!, Carmen Rodgers | The Promontory | Blues, Gospel, and R&B | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Thu., April 9, 8 p.m. 2015
Neosoul in the 90s was a music with a mission—a real retro response to slick radio pop. A couple decades on, though, neosoul feels like an institution itself. Perhaps Zo! and Carmen Rodgers don’t have the driven urgency of their retro predecessors, but their easygoing vibe fits nicely into the smooth-soul groove. The video by Detroit producer and multi-instrumentalist Zo! for “We Are On the Move” is a winningly doofy take on the Whispers’ “Keep On Lovin’ Me” that replaces their lean swagger with a more portly, amateur jaunt. Atlanta-based Carmen Rodgers’s light, jazzy delivery is a good complement to Zo!. Her 2015 album, Stargazer (Nia), can get bogged down by its own reverence on occasion, but at its best, as on “Camille Leon,” it treats elements like Stevie Wonder’s “doo doo doos” with a loving nonchalance that can’t help but charm. In concert, Rodgers is insinuatingly charismatic: she may not be rock star enough to have a stadium full of fans who know her song “Heartless,” but she makes up for it by teaching her audience the chorus on the fly. Rather than a reprimand to Top 40, Zo! and Rodgers feel like a generous, low-key alternative—soul easy enough that it’s got nothing to prove. —Noah Berlatsky
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