Philadelphia-bred soul child RES, who headlined a sold-out Roxy on Friday, was reared on a musical diet of classic R&B, ’90s alternative rock, reggae and positive hip-hop, and the 24-year-old and her funky seven-piece band made the most of her diverse influences with a charming and confidently rendered performance.
“How I Do” (MCA), the excellent genre-blended debut from RES (pronounced “Reese”), was all but lost in last year’s Alicia Keys/India.Arie frenzy. Yet her 12-song collection comes with a distinct sense of wide-eyed, explorative fun that’s mostly missing from the Keys and Arie albums.
RES opened her Sunset Strip show with the hip-hop-rock blender “How I Do,” a cocky statement of purpose that set the show’s passionate tone. “What is it that I adore/If you pay me then I’ll tell you more,” she offered in an endearingly raspy voice that’s quite reminiscent of Stevie Nicks and, to a lesser degree, Lauryn Hill. “To get inside of this head would take a monkey wrench,” she sang.
Dressed in white tank top and tight hip-huggers, RES injected sexuality into many of the songs, but with each bit of coquetry came the articulate warning that this lady is too intelligent to suffer fools. “We know the truth about you,” she snarled with a wink and a nod in “Golden Boys,” a rejection of flashy, shallow men. “All a fraud, don’t believe their show,” she warned, as two female backup singers echoed her sentiments.
Her vulnerable side was on display during “Ice King,” an appealing midtempo tune of romantic frustration. “Although I’ve seen your wickedness/I still love your effervescence,” RES sang over a smooth and funky bass-led music bed. The reggae-flavored ballad “Tsunami” segued nicely into the chorus of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry.”
Show included a couple other inventively executed cover songs: RES was her expressive best during a remix version of Jimi Hendrix’s “If 6 Was 9,” while AC/DC’s “Back in Black” was given a superb funked-out reworking. Gig closed with a fiery take on “Say It Anyway,” a hidden track on RES’ album that was the hardest-rocking song of the evening’s dozen entries.