Crazy Game EP – Stephanie Rodriguez (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Stephanie Rodriguez trades in soulful grooves, R&B-infused pop, slow-burning torch songs and, occasionally, euphoric dance music. She seems to have found a way to marry the smooth sonics of the past with a more cutting-edge delivery and in doing so she delivers a sound which will appeal to the traditionalists as much as it will the cool, movers, shakers and taste-makers of the current scene. And that is a clever trick to be able to pull off.

Fine With Me opens this lush ep, a smooth yet sassy blend of late-night soul and mature pop balladry, timeless rhythms shot through with contemporary musical motifs and I Ain’t Looking kicks back even further, a cocooning and drifting sound, warm and full of self-assured lyricism. Shine is one of those perfectly poised pop songs, built from a slow and sultry swagger, all the more effective for not going for any obvious punches or employing studio tricks. It tips its hat both to smooth 70’s sounds and slick 90’s production but it strikes out for a modern audience and pitches even beyond today’s expectations.

The lulling tones of these first three songs are perfectly placed and make the dynamic switch which follows even more effective, allowing for a soaring return peaking in the tasteful dance-floor fun of About Time. And Follow My Destiny, which rounds things off, is the perfect culmination of all the sounds which have preceded it, western clubland grooves, mixed with the occasional flash of Mediterranean tones, authentic soul shot through with more exotic North African echoes, tastes of the Gibraltarian homeland that her musical journey started in perhaps.

It’s a cool collection of music, one which connects musical eras as much as does cultural sounds, but that is the great thing about the world that we find ourselves in today. It’s getting smaller all the time but the music it creates is increasingly broader, more interesting, cross-pollinated and forward-thinking. And Crazy Game is all the proof that you need.

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