Regular readers of this site (smart, dashing people that you are) know of my love of metal and hardcore, which were in heavy rotation during the added stresses of 2020. There’s just something about fast riffs that soothed my soul while in quarantine. However, it was a relatively recent discovery that reigned supreme in my top songs of last year: UK house and garage. Soothing vocals, turbulent bass lines, and butter-smooth beats were the soundtrack that signaled the move from the “office couch” to the kitchen to make dinner and/or margaritas (too many…). I’ve long loved retrowave and 80s pop, so the neon synths of Gorgon City, Duke Dumont, Goodboys, and Zhu were like sunshine on a very long series of dark days.

That brings me to Rochelle Jordan – an artist who made waves in the last decade for a brand of electro R&B that put a spotlight on her airy vocals offset by sharp lyricism. A friendship was sparked in those earlier releases between Jordan and producers KLSH, Machinedrum, and Jimmy Edgar – one that has culminated in a brand of electronic music tailor-made for my ears. Blending multiple decades of UK house/garage, 90s R&B, Gospel, and the type of swagger I associate with the biggest and best classic rock, there’s a hell of a lot to love about Play with the Changes. It’s that last word in the album’s title that reigns supreme here – not only does this record find Jordan leaning much harder into a house mindset, but no two songs here are the same.

“Got Em” is a braggadocious, bodacious boastful hymn with an excellent wobbly central bass line that feels like an island drum beat filtered through a Moog. “Next 2 You” is a dancefloor anthem about going after what you want, with a beat I could swear is a waltz. “Count It” sounds like a remix of a long-lost R&B jam from the original Space Jam. Songs like “Something”, “Already”, and lyrical standout “Broken Steel” employ subtle yet significant sonic shifts to great effect. Tempos, moods, and musical motifs.

You don’t need the image of a slightly overweight mid-30s white dude dancing in house, but now you have it. Play with the Changes is impossible to take in standing still, and that seems to be both the point and the reason for the record’s success. Jordan’s musings are as incisive as ever, and she plays around with her vocal delivery to great success. Her continued musical relationship with producer KLSH is as fine-tuned as ever. Those in the mood for excellent R&B, house, or even just great pop music will be in Heaven. An astounding release.

Order/stream the album at Bandcamp.

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