Peven Everett

Studio Confessions

Of the recent deluge of neo-soul artists, few are truly new-sounding, but a handful, thankfully, bring the soul. Peven Everett is the latest hotshot, joining hip hop fusionist Goapele and Stevie Wonder impersonator Donnie in classing up America's bedrooms. A Windy City multi-instrumentalist, Everett departs from his jazz and house music roots to infuse his third CD, Studio Confessions, with delicate sophistication and rare restraint.

Confessions is an auspicious maiden release for ABB Soul, the new imprint of Oakland's ABB Records. The album's modest 10 tracks -- solely written, produced, and performed by the 27-year-old Everett -- are tightly focused soundscapes of rim-clicking drums, light keys, and caressing multitracked vocals. Favoring an even keel over dynamic emotionalism, the artist threatens to disappear into the wallpaper at times, before revealing himself over multiple listens as a player of much distinction.

In fact, on close inspection, each song has more unique touches than a petting zoo. The string-laden "World Love" and the horn-supported "Say It Back" feature loosely groovy arrangements that complement the coiled vocal hook of the first single, "Testin Me." And Everett's competent rapping amidst the swirling layers of "I Can Give It," together with the Isley-esque synth jam of closer "Sankofa," suggests that he's capable of a wide range of musical feats. Fortunately, he chooses to minimize such departures and instead prioritize cohesion and simple soulfulness. While Everett, like his peers, doesn't stray far from musical tradition, he shows on Studio Confessionsthat he can channel it flawlessly.

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