SunStorm is Lorenzo Ferguson's follow-up to 2009’s Overdue Process -- a full-length collaboration with MC Asylum 7 -- and payback from several sessions beside the Foreign Exchange and its affiliates. It's also the natural extension of the Just Visiting EPs, in which the multi-instrumentalist/producer and a rotating array of vocalists reinterpreted soft soul of the mid-'70s through the early '90s -- hits and cult classics like Minnie Riperton's "Perfect Angel," the Jones Girls' "Nights Over Egypt," and Mary J. Blige's "Love No Limit." Ferguson's keyboards and beats have always been flexible enough to accommodate vocalists and MCs with equal ease. Here, they are especially geared toward the former, though Phonte pulls double duty on the uplifting tone setter "Greater Than the Sun" and Rapper Big Pooh briefly drops in on the loose-collared "This Could Be the Night." True to its title, SunStorm emits a constant flow of radiant, positive energy, even when the love songs convey turbulence. Ferguson gracefully switches between lively pianos and darting synthesizers over beats that gently bounce and flutter, and drafts in some occasional woodwinds and brass. This places the album as much in line with the most musical strain of broken beat (à la 4hero, Mark de Clive-Lowe, and Kaidi Tatham) as adult contemporary R&B. If the wide-scoped progressive jazz and R&B station WJZZ -- a fixture in Ferguson's native Detroit -- still existed, it would no doubt wear this album out. Given the number of featured vocalists, the station would not run the risk of losing any ears in doing so.
by Andy Kellman