The Jaystorm Project Produces the Unexpected

A Brand New Funk: The EP (JVP Entertainment) features, among other novelties, a cover of "Is This Love?"

Nobody besides Jaystorm would have ever considered putting both singer/songwriter Dave Landeo and rapper Mr. Mack on the same disc; even if the two don't perform on the same song, A Brand New Funk still wins the prize for pairing the two unlikeliest guest spots on a local record in recent memory. Jaystorm is himself an unlikely performer, mixing rapping and singing—sometimes it's hard to say whether he's doing one or the other or something in between. With Landeo, he does a low-key, irony-free version of Whitesnake's "Is This Love?" with surprisingly resonant results, his smooth vocals working the chorus for every ounce of emotion over Landeo's classically inspired acoustic guitar. On "That's the Shhh," a bouncy club anthem featuring Mr. Mack, Jaystorm works in R. Kelly territory, putting staccato R&B vocals over a high-pitched, slightly monotonous synth track. Mack's verse wins, but Jaystorm more than holds his own.

The other three tracks feature Jaystorm rap-singing over live funky R&B. Some of it, like "Reddy 2 Ride," recalls early commercial hip-hop; some is contemporary throwback soul ("Get Wit'Cha," "Can't Go On"). It's not as unexpected as "Is This Love?" or as fresh as "Shhh," but it shows Jaystorm and his band in comfortable territory.