Rogiers - The Shedding

Rogiers
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It has been a long while since singer/songwriter Rogiérs graced us with his liquid vocals. Seven years since the critically acclaimed Life Music: All of It poured the most sweeping of smooth soul around with rapturous arrangements and instrumentation that soothed and swayed on cuts like “Fa Sho,” “Come Into My World,” and “Come When You Call." Besides some internet and satellite radio play and compilation placement of cuts like “Hollywood Story (featuring Bilal),” the album never got the audience it fully deserved, certainly not in the States. Since a 2008 follow-up, The Remix/Reject project, there have been live performances and jazz covers released here and there, as the Spain-based expatriate traveled the globe, but nothing as complete as Rogiérs’ formal sophomore recording, The Shedding.

It has been a long while since singer/songwriter Rogiérs graced us with his liquid vocals. Seven years since the critically acclaimed Life Music: All of It poured the most sweeping of smooth soul around with rapturous arrangements and instrumentation that soothed and swayed on cuts like “Fa Sho,” “Come Into My World,” and “Come When You Call." Besides some internet and satellite radio play and compilation placement of cuts like “Hollywood Story (featuring Bilal),” the album never got the audience it fully deserved, certainly not in the States. Since a 2008 follow-up, The Remix/Reject project, there have been live performances and jazz covers released here and there, as the Spain-based expatriate traveled the globe, but nothing as complete as Rogiérs’ formal sophomore recording, The Shedding.

Former music director for Alicia Keys and featured performer on such indie classics as the Platinum Pied Piper’s take on Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover,” Rogiérs has been in the game for more than a decade. The Shedding underscores that time and experience married to talent. The melodies throughout are strong and assured. The hooks for hybrid pop songs like “Good to Know You” and “Messed Up On Love” are enough to grab hold. The mix, the best one can manage under a limited budget, pushes flawless Rogiérs vocals out front to mask the reliance on electronic production and the lack of full instrumentation that were hallmarks of Life Music: All of It. Even if the production sometimes feel thin, the quality of the material works mightily to compensate and often succeeds.

Rogiérs takes a significant tonal and musical difference in approach to The Shedding as well. He has a husky tenor rich with gospel and jazz riffs when he wants to, one more prominently displayed on his debut. In more recent years, he’s favored a cleaner, higher, and more whispery tenor sound that is decidedly more pop, as are the about a quarter of the songs on this EP. There are movements that transition the 8:39 epic “Good To Know You” from pop to soul to a full gospel chorus. The percussive “Messed Up On Love” also takes a long, nearly seven-minute genre hopping and blending journey of its own, but one that ends as panoramic, soulful, and harmonically perfect as R&B can get.

Clearly, Rogiérs isn’t one to be boxed into any one genre, at least not on The Shedding. There is a synthy urban foray with “Wash Rag” that has shades of electronica flirting on the margins of it streetwise hook (“I don’t want you to be my wash rag”). Rogiérs also tries his hand at the jazz standard largely owned by Shirley Horn since 1992, but his cover of "Here's To Life" is a tender and wizened competitor, one heavy with the jazz rifts and gospel runs reminiscent of classic Rogiérs. And there are two mixes of “M.T.Y.P.,” a full-blown soulful house jam whose sinewy seductions qualify it as one of the best recordings of Rogiérs’s career. Of all the new musical benders, “Again,” a tribal deconstructed remix experimentation, feels the most incomplete and rudderless. It’s also alone in not matching the quality of this project’s core songs.

At seven tracks, including an interlude intro, The Shedding is short on the number of songs, but long on length, quality, and most importantly, melody. It’s an overall fine display from an artist whose music and voice have evolved in interesting new directions, not less than before but certainly different than before. It’s not the Rogiérs of old, but for such a young and versatile artist, why would it be? Recommended.  

By L. Michael Gipson

 

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