Lumping her in with the rest of the neo-soul and conscious R&B movement does Zaki Ibrahim a disservice. The Toronto-based singer has a sound that incorporates many more influences and ideas than the legions of Badu wannabes. On this EP, the beats are decidedly earthy and organic while still embodying a certain futuristic soul vision. Ibrahim pulls rhythms from her African roots as well as deep house and broken beat, along with the R&B grooves she’ll need to break through stateside.
This is genuinely new soul music, and as such it may have a hard time fitting in on radio in North America until she blows up in Europe. There are also none of the 60s references needed to tie her into Winehouse-mania, but hopefully that juggernaut has hit its saturation point and listeners are ready for a retreat from retro and a return to the 21st century.
Zaki Ibrahim performs at Mod Club Theatre Tuesday (May 13).