Rochelle Jordan debuted in 2011 and by 2014 seemed poised to be known by more than seekers of progressive electronic R&B. The singer’s discography was blooming. She was referenced by fellow Torontonian Drake (“Club Paradise”), sampled by Special Request (“Soundboy Killer”), and recruited by Childish Gambino (“Telegraph Ave.”), and she had opened for Jessie Ware in the States. Thwarted for years by an ensuing label and management deal that proved to be grossly restrictive, she bounces back on TOKiMONSTA’s Young Art label with Play with the Changes, an album with greater vocal, lyrical, and sonic range than her previous releases.
Jordan continues to team with producer KLSH, who has been with her from the start, and she is also aided by Machinedrum and Jimmy Edgar, dancefloor adventurers who have benefitted from her economical writing and flexible voice in assorted settings, both separately and as the duo JETS, for several years. Play with the Changes dives into assorted strains of dance music rooted in the U.K. soul and acid house scenes of the late ’80s and early ’90s. London-born Jordan was raised in part by the records played by her older brother, and that inspiration manifests in an R&B- rooted set that glows with elements of atmospheric house, spangly garage, and racing drum’n’bass, heard most vividly on beguiling tracks like “All Along,” “Got Em,” and “Already” (the latter containing a rapped verse tougher than anything Jordan has done before). There’s also a gorgeous ballad evoking Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, and Timbaland, and a couple grade-A modern slow jams. Best is the slithering “Count It,” all sensual threat with demands like “Put the band on this cash” and “Count it all again.” It’s just as enthralling — and empowered — as any of the club tracks. ~ Andy Kellman