Avery Storm - Cateogry 5

Posted October 22, 2009
Tags: Avery Storm,

We can’t talk about Avery Storm without talking about his voice. You see, Storm has one of...

Category 5 Album Review

We can’t talk about Avery Storm without talking about his voice. You see, Storm has one of those voices that defies nearly every rule for “good” singing, a voice that at times goes so far off the scale it comes full circle back into being on key again (other examples from across genres include Janis Joplin, Macy Gray and even Weezy when he’s properly inspired/drunk). To be more specific, if you’re like me, you heard Rick Ross’ hit Here I Am and wondered who the dude on the hook with the crazy voice was. That, my friends, was the work of Avery Storm, and he’s got the kind of voice some people will inevitably dislike. But for the rest of us, Storm’s got a voice that once you hear, you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Storm may seem like a newcomer to some, but he’s actually been in the game for a minute, putting down always quality work but so far failing to truly find the spotlight, probably because of his aforementioned voice and accompanying off-balance style. So while the usual industry complications surround the release of his debut album Shotgun Love, Storm’s decided to take complete creative control for the release of his new DJ Green Lantern and Scram Jones affiliated mixalbum Category 5, a work so good my only real complaint is that the name was already taken by Twista’s latest album. As I explained then, a Category 5 is a storm so powerful that it destroys everything in its path, and while Avery’s musical storm isn’t that strong, it’s still powerful enough to leave less creative artists running for shelter.

If you’re just getting to know Storm, as am I, luckily he provides no shortage of material that reveals his musical vision on Category 5, starting with the appropriately titled It’s Me. Fittingly, if someone asked you who Avery Storm was you could do a lot worse than saying nothing and simply playing It’s Me, letting the track’s darkly pacing beat, Storm’s off-kilter cadence and wild style vocals speak for itself. On a more lyrical and personal tip, the banging My Life examines the troubled (to put it mildly) relationship with his family with gripping honesty. Besides their biographical nature, all of these track share a more hip-hop sensibility, underwriting the production with strong percussion and heavy synths, a prevalence most evident on the Jadakiss-assisted Terrified, the mixalbum’s most radio ready cut that finds Storm taking a more traditional falsetto vocal approach. Category 5 is many things, a genre bending work, the album of a frustrated artist, but it’s also a reminder to rappers that Avery Storm will sound pretty damn good on their next track. Let’s hope someone’s listening.

While Storm’s work on the hip-hop side of the spectrum’s certainly quality, the true measure of any singer is their R&B chops, and fortunately Category 5 comes through on that front as well. If I had to play someone who’s never heard Storm one track it’d be Bad, a hypnotizingly paced cut that finds him perfectly balancing his unique style with more classic R&B - more than any track on the mixalbum Bad shows Storm’s commercial and artistic potential. It’s a similar story on Category Five’s new single My Lady, a more traditional ballad that Storm dramatically softens his voice for, and Promise, a cut that takes Mario’s Crying Out for Me and flips it into a tale of regret and heartbreak. As good as My Lady and Promise are, I’d take 60 Seconds, a neo-soul esque joint that sizzles with soul, and What If, a track that gives some Coldplay production an R&B makeover, over both. These are the tracks where it feels like Storm is most himself, and it’s no coincidence that they’re also Category 5’s best.

That’s not to say that everything on Category 5 works. On I’ll Be Great Storm’s voice fails to connect, a shame since it’s essentially the opening track, D.O.A. shows his rap skills still need some work and Keep Going falls into easy cliches, but the risks Storm takes to succeed are well worth the occasional stumble. So is this mixalbum ultimately worthy of a Category 5 designation? Literally? No, but I’d give it a 3.5, which according to the National Weather Service is the equivalent of a major hurricane. A musical major hurricane - yeah, that sounds about right.

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

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Posted October 22, 2009
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