Thursday, July 30, 2015

CD Review: Zoya's 'The Girl Who Used To Live In My Room'

The Girl Who Used To Live In My Room
Zoya Mohan Music

With a birthplace in India and a current home base in California, Zoya brings diverse vocals and eclectic instrumentation from around the contemporary world on her latest venture into quaint and quirky pop music on The Girl Who Used To Live In My Room.  The ten-track release possesses a hint of South Asian influences with neo-classical strings, varied percussion, and wind instrumentation, while the other half of the influences stem from European or North American folk, roots, and pop.

“What’s Done Is Done” opens with a soft, keyboard medley, swishy percussion, and a flute before Zoya’s slightly husky vocals commence in a sort of jazz standard arrangement.  A few cymbals crash and a snare drum add to the percussive effects.  The drums, flute, cymbals, keyboards, and strings add to the full sound.  Though, the track is only two-minutes long.  Still, the song is impressive and Zoya’s voice is enticing.

“Swim” opens with an atmospheric wash and jazzy sax with scintillating, vibraphone sounds and Zoya’s jazzy, slightly R&B vocals in a down-tempo vein.  The sounds are jazzy, urban, dreamy, and intriguing with influences mainly stemming from an edgy jazz or trip-hop foundation. Zoya’s back-up vocalists are equally amazing by filling in the melodies and rhythms.  The jaunty song brings out smooth and sultry jazz influences indicative of a Colombian or Brazilian origin. Importantly, Zoya’s eclectic arrangements make the song stand out no matter what genre it may fit in.

“Hold On” begins with a few guitar strums, a sweeping vibraphone melody, breathy flute or clarinet, and Zoya’s achingly-beautiful vocals.  The flute sounds are rather vibrant throughout, while the acoustic guitar rhythm sets the base for the vibraphone sounds with are very dreamy. Zoya’s vocals are not too unlike that of Zero 7.  The four-and-a-half-minute composition contains jazzy improvisation the last minute of the song.

“She Was” begins with a jaunty, acoustic guitar medley that is very organic and earthy, while a rustling percussive sound and string slide begins the vocal portion of the song.  Zoya’s vocals are rather theatrical amidst the diverse guitar stylings, various percussion, and slightly Middle Eastern and flamenco-tinged arrangements.  The jazzy, back-up vocals are a perfect backdrop to Zoya’s vocals, as the song matures into an instrumental frenzy before four-minutes into the song. The song ends with a lighter mix of vocals, airy sounds, and clicking percussion.   

“The Girl Who Used To Live In My Room” begins with a raw, acoustic guitar melody with sounds of kids playing early on in the song.  Zoya’s vocals are rather airy and poetic.  A variety of string and horn sounds lend a jazzy substance to the mix.  The five-minute song is poignant, delicate, and intricate in a more structured manner than anything composed by Regina Spektor. At any rate, the title track is full of edgy percussion, Middle Eastern-like instrumental arrangements, and a theatrical vein that is rather chaotic (in a good way) by the end of the song.

Zoya’s new album provides listeners with a sassy and sensual voice that seemingly changes contemporary pop and world music for the better.  The down-tempo, jazz-laden, and R&B-esque vocalizations are poetic and theatrical.  The instrumental arrangements are rather short, but diverse.  For example, there are various wind instrument sounds, vibraphone additions, and sporadic strings that are performed in non-traditional manners, which showcase Zoya’s creative edge throughout.  This is not a pop, rock, classical, new age, urban, or artsy album.  Zoya’s new work is rather indescribable, but it incorporates the vocal similarities of Katie Melua and Zero 7 with the instrumental aptitude of an eclectic or alternative songstress yearning for something more.

Review by Matthew Forss
Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)

No comments: