Zoe Mazah ADD
Album Review: Zoe Mazah - Higher Vibration
by Gardy Stein
"I put all my emotions of the last few years into this album. Most of all, it is meant to encourage and to remind us of our inherent power to see, create and pass on beauty." (Zoe Mazah)
Three years ago, the EP On Repeat introduced me to the oeuvre of Zoe Mazah (an artist whose earlier works have somehow passed me by), and I instantly fell for her music, craving for more. A flow of singles and guest appearances, such as the fine collaborations with Silent Nancy and Rob Symeonn, made sure that our ears didn't run dry, and now her fourth full album Higher Vibration falls on us like sweet spring rain. Liquid sunshine indeed!
Co-produced by Louie Melody from Portugal and Rocksteady Fred from Sweden, the instrumentals combine the best of both worlds: sizzling heat and cooling fog, extroverted vibrant sunshine and introspective breezy melancholy, brought together by the producers as well as musicians Pedro Pulga Silva (bass) and Nic Horns (brass). Reggae is the binding force that holds it all together, of course, but given the diversified musical socialization of singer Zoe Mazah and the other artists involved, there are many more influences to be heard as well.
The first track Black Girl Magic throws us right into this creative melting pot, with jazz, soul and even latin ingredients swirling around each other in a rootsy broth, making for a spicy, bubbling whole that teems with self-confidence and black empowerment. "She's a real queen (…) take good care and protect your black girl magic!"
With Boogie Rock, an invitation to dance from the depths of Zoe's childhood memories, these "strictly positive vibes" are continued, and lucky are the ones who have a partner to sweep the dancefloor with. This movement-inducing vibe is continued in the subsequent Over The Moon, which, in very lyrical words, reminisces a lover, or rather the intense but fleeting time spent with him. It comes with the first video of the album, an animation by London-based artist Juppi Juppsen, heralding the summer ahead of us – additional visuals are to come, so keep an eye out!
More stable than the previous subject, the person addressed in the slower-paced I Turn To You seems to be the ideal partner for life, and the intensity with which Zoe delivers her lyrics speak of the deep connection and gratitude she feels for whoever is meant: "You're my rock, you're my salvation, the shoulder that I cry on, you're everything that I call home…" It's quite possibly the same wonderful human being that inspired Skylarking, a relaxed (and relaxing) relationship anthem if there ever was one – although the beautiful In To The Light, a last-minute addition to the tracklist, is a tough contender to this title.
A more universal point of view is taken in Unbreakable and Soul Rebel, both of which celebrate the invincible "soldiers of love" and "light warriors" we all are, and stress how important it is for you to "light your fire" and "vibrate higher" in these times. Listen keenly! For all those struggling with something, Leave A Light On assures you that you are not alone. Again, the detours in blues and neighboring territory, both in instrumental and vocal delivery, make it an exciting affair to listen to, and this innovative approach, this quest to produce unprecedented tunes, is one of the outstanding qualities of this album. The connection to the defining genre is never lost, though, as Take It Slow vividly illustrates. Oh that reggae groove, oh that message! "One thing at a time is enough, no rush."
Give Thanks For Life is, at least for me personally, the most touching piece of the album, shining in the minimalist acoustic beauty of percussions, piano, guitar and the perfectly natural harmonies that Zoe Mazah arrives at with ease and grace – and precision! What an awesome voice this singer has…
Higher Vibration is music in its pristine essence. Not a people-pleasing, market-aligned or target-group-oriented affair focusing on likes and streams, but the pure, undiluted joy of sharing an innermost urge of expression, of creating and bringing sweet melodies and pensive words into the world, of lifting us onto a higher vibration. Thank you for this gem, team Zoe Mazah!
Zoe Mazah - Higher Vibration
DIGITAL RELEASE / VINYL [Upful Music]
Release date: 04/14/2023
01. Black Girl Magic
02. Boogie Rock
03. Over The Moon
04. I Turn To You
06. Soul Rebel
07. Leave A Light On
09. Take It Slow
10. Give Thanks For Life
11. In To The Light (Bonus Track)