Published Nov 11, 2014Let's get the obvious out of the way first: 1021 sounds like an Aaliyah record. The airy vocals, the ambient bounce, the undeniable nowness of it all — Rochelle Jordan's proper full-length does better justice to baby girl's memory than a Lifetime special. Others may see that as an invitation to scoff, but frankly, they're fools. How many artists have leaned on a Motown sound in recent years? Who's mad at Bruno Mars revisiting '80s funk? Approximation is more than acceptable when the results deliver.
So where does that leave 1021? As a great record in keeping with the sound of lot of formative years. Rochelle Jordan's writing and performance demonstrate a confidence in her intimate arrangement, and primary producer KLSH's sound is honed and well paired with Jordan. Sonically, the album is composed almost exclusively of atmospheric pads and sharp staccato drum programming, with Jordan's layered vocals proving the bulk of the melodic structure.
Songs like "Lowkey," "Playa 4 Life" and the previously released "Follow Me" are contemporary R&B perfected. "Day Ones" and "401" has Jordan flexing an aggressive edge lest you be duped by her gentle voice. The Rich Kidd-produced, down-pitched "Good One" is a particularly captivating and sorrow-drowning ode to incompatibility.
1021's only missteps come at the halfway point, where a couple of tracks fail to distinguish themselves from the great ones that preceded them. A welcome deviation from established patterns comes toward the conclusion with the 130bpm "Ease Your Mind" and the evocative millennial blues bonus cut "Chain Smoking." EPs and mixtapes have done well to establish Rochelle Jordan as one to look out for; 1021 ensures she'll be hard to miss. This new crop of Toronto kids can't seem to lose. (Protostar Entertainment)