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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Zee Avi album review


I woke up this morning feeling festive. No, it’s nothing religious, but I guess im celebrating the birth of Zee Avi self titled debut album and its arrival at the Rock Corner, the local CD store here in Damansara, Kuala Lumpur. (Yeah, the name of a town that Zee mendtioned in the song Kantoi).

Just like everyone else, I too, discover Zee Avi through YouTube,where I followed her video updates almost religiously, and yeah, downloading it to my notebook and watch it over and over again and gets my friends all cranky when I played her song for the another 100th times. Then, when she started getting invites to perform at local gigs in KL city, I had the pleasure to watch her live performances and met her in person for the first time at ASWARA. Of course, since I cant stop talking about her, few of my friends had accidentally become her devoted admirers aswell.

In every of her show, we unshamefully fight for our front seat and sing along to her songs while soaking the mood of the melodies, letting our minds travel to where the songs took us, opening up every pages of memory that still intact in the corner of our minds.

The joy of discovering new talented talent like Zee Avi, is similar to falling in love for the very first time. The feeling of wanting more and more, happy, smiling, sparks inspirational juices and, becoming surprisingly creative.Waking up each day, running to the desk, hooking up to the internet just to greet mr google, checking up on whats new with Zee Avi today becoming a routine ritual!. Hehehhee..

Born In Miri, Sarawak, at 12 she resides in Kuala Lumpur then further her studies in London where she studied fashion design for 4 years. I guess the art appreciation blood comes naturally to her. She returned to KL in 2007 and found herself pickup the guitar and letting her creative juices flowing in songwriting in the middle of job interviews. Although she didn’t secure any suitable job within her interest, she accidentally secured youtube fans and followers soon after she uploaded a video of her performance to a friend in London. She then started to post more videos as more people requested her to upload more songs.

The funny and mysterious thing was, during her youtube thingie, she only recorded her video with an angle below her eyes and her guitar. LOL. Some naughty visitors even speculate that she is a ‘little person’. But that doesn’t stop more people enjoying her jazzy pop tune of mellow melancholy love songs. As an average asian girl, she is petite, but her talent is surely bigger and louder than her physical self.

Zee Avi road to Brushfire Records, a label owned by Jack Johnson is almost a Cinderella story. It’s all happened accidentally too fast. Before I knew it, She got signed, eventough she is still relatively nobody and unknown in KL. In between finalizing her contract with Brushfire, she managed to performed at severals gig and musical event in KL indie scene then, and early this year, she fly off to America to promote her debut album and as of today She is still busy promoting her debut album and I’m so glad that happy that almost all feedback has been positive and things, are taking up well, slow and steady now.

Her modest achievement in the big apple as of today is still one of the biggest achievement for a Malaysian talent in international music scene, and she is definitely not alone because many more Malaysian talents are in the middle of making of their way in the international scene, names such as Che’nelle, Shayna Zaid, Saer Ze, Arabryd, Caprice, Pop Shuvit, Couple, and many many more. Perhaps, with Zee little success it might have path a bigger roads for more Malaysians talent to come.

Anyway, with a tin of coke in my hand, smilingly widely, with my eyes wide open, I greet my friend, hand him my thank you coke as I walk my way in the record store, my eyes immediately glued to the stack of CDs titled ‘Zee Avi’ arranged on the front display desk, and on the counter, turning me into a happy jumpy bunny!

A few hours later, after some tiresome shopping spree with loads of pet stuff from pet lovers centre at Ikano. We head to Kg Baru for dinner with Zee Avi songs blasted on the stereo.

I really like the simplicity back to basic musical concept of this album. The execution is consistent, from the songs, music video, and even the album packaging, in light sepia mode cover concept. Well Done! The album cover portrayed Zee Avi in a vintage flowery print kebaya, complete with the vintage necklace, very retro yet classy. It compliment her musical direction and style.

The album starts with ‘Bitter Heart’ the first single off the debut album. A longing song in a happy tune. It’s a sing a long song that will surely make us tapping our shoe on the floor, and make us move our head and smile with the song. It reminds me with Norah Jones ‘sunrise’. The trombone sound completes the mood of the song. This, surely be a marvelous hit that will introduce the named Zee Avi to the world.

What I like most about her songs is that its like a storybook. Where she open up to us personally and tell us stories of sadness, frustration, hopes, but it doesn’t bore us. Her song is short but meaningful. I love the way she choose her words in the lyrics and her delivery of every verse of her songs. It’s all unique and attractively engaging.

‘Poppy’ to me is a funny but sad in same way, it talks about a lover who has lost his sanity due to drugs problem. “my baby used to repeat the news, and now he talks about dragons on the wall, he used to love german appreciation, asian films now he drinks until he fall, I was confused, didn’t know what to do, so I called his momma had her come on over, she got him off the ground start slapping him and she say she says, the poppy took my baby away from me..” I can’t help but imagine this song as single and how the video can be made in a hilarious funny way. LOL.

For example, in the song ‘Honey Bee’, the story of a heroic lover, definitely make me took a deep meaningful breath of it inspirational story. “but my other honey bee, stuck where he doesn’t wanna be, oh my darling honey bee, I come save you, even if it mean, I have to face the queen…”Can’t help but try to hold my tears from bursting because I felt too inspired with the brave lover bee that willing to fight the queen bee to save her lover bee that still trapped in the bee hive. Aww…

She use a lot of picturesque words to complete her verses in constructing her lyrics, she encourage us to imagine the scenic surrounding of the song and probably put us in the mood of the song and allow us to connect the song with our own life story.

‘Just you and me’ stand out with only her voice and a ukulele, It’s a happy clappy love song that makes you want to sing along to the simple picturesque lyric that read such as “you were sitting at the coffee table where you reading kierkegaard, minutes later you proceeded something that almost broke my heart, you say nothing im tired of living my routine life, there’s so much in the world that I like to soak up with my eyes, well baby I never stop you from going out to explore, we can do it all together from the coast to the tropic’s of borneo..” It’s definately a classy camp fire song!

What I like about the song ‘Is this the end’ is a breakup song yet sounding romantic and hopeful. Zee voice sounded lightly hoarse and sexy. I can’t help myself but imagining im in a jungle resort, starring at the stars, with a cricket sound on the background, recalculating those past relationships that have ended. “Is this the end, why does it feel, that it only just begun, if we were done, you think I’ll hang on, if you still want me, but if you don’t, yes I’ll move on, but if you need me, close your eyes and dream, I give you back your key, will you be happy?...” The mood of the song really suits romantic scenes in a movie.

Im glad, in ‘Monte’ she blended the song with ‘sape’ sound, a local Sarawak musical instrument. It makes the song sounded romantically exotic and unique. No wonder it has been featured in one of the scene for the series ‘Private Practice’. She does not only use local musical sound in her song, being a person who is proud of her cultural root, She also use malay street language lyrics with English for the catchy song ‘Kantoi’. She usually sing that song as the finale song in your shows here in KL. It gets the crowd all excited by clapping and singing along to ‘Kantoi’ every time.

‘I am Me once more’ is my favourite song the moment she uploaded the video on youtube. I watch and listen to it over and over again. Im so glad that she fights to include it in this album. The post break up song. “i aint jaded no more, and I take pride to be the one that say good bye, that could only mean, I am me, once more…”

She also cover the 2004 UK hit ‘first of the gang to die’ by Morrissey. I love her mesmerizing rendition esp the chorus where she ‘ukelelefied’ the song and make the song as her own. A must listen, or probably a potential single material. I guess she must have fallen in love with the song when she was in London. 

‘Darlin’ it Ain’t Easy’ is a fast paced song, listening to it, makes me took my mind off from the hectic city to the east coast, driving in a convertible vintage mini car with the wind blows my hair as the I breath the smells of the ocean. Totally a refreshing setting, eventough the song talk about a lover saying goodbye to a relationship that’s not going to work. “ you look confuse, but I don’t blame you, but you’re never around enough for me to love you, darling you don’t deserve me, you don’t deserve my love, I had plan to give a shot but you shut it off…”

‘The story’ talks about falling in love secretly with someone you are close with. A one sided love. “Only the moon, only the moon, only the moon, will hear my plea. Only the creatures of the night, will harmonize with me. Missed you so, missed you so,
and I wondered if you know; The wind has blown me in this corner
and it's hard to let go” . My gawd it’s so emotionally painful, it might wrench your heart.

‘Let Me in’ is my favorite, not only it is use only piano to back the song, but Zee sounded really different in this song. She successfully delivers the song in a emotional way. It’s a slow song, I guess some people might not stand with slow ballad. This song will take you in an emotional ride in every note. The song talks about giving a relationship a second chance.

Hmm… Poor Zee, I wonder if all of these songs are autobiographical, she mustve been in quite a number of fails relationship, and who are those jerks that has broke her heart 

This album definitely, surpassed my initial expectation from a newcomer like Zee Avi. Despite of her simplicity and casual personalities, she has proved to us that she is definitely a true artist who knows what she is doing and she’s doing it the best she could in every aspect of her work.

This album has it own lover and followers, and it might not appeal to some average people who only listen to one specific musical genre. If you are cross genre musical lovers, this album might be suitable for you. For some others, you either will love it so much or diss the songs as sleepy song or funeral song, whatever. However, I am confident that this album is has it own class and destined to be discover by it lovers as time goes by.

I must thank Brushfire for allowing Zee to be flexible and allow her to be creative in her own ways. I guess, that’s why Zee decided to signed with them. I totally love this album. It doesn’t bother or worried me if this album fail or succeed in terms of money or fame.

What matters, I now own a collection of Zee Avi songs in an original CD to accompany me wherever I go, as a soundtrack of my life when I am sad or happy or just need a time off on my own. If people in America or elsewhere does not welcome you, then I am more than happy to wait for Zee to return to KL and I will be there at her show with my friends, with other Zee Avi fans who appreciate her music and love her the way she is.

Zee dear, I heart your talent. Just be yourself and be happy wherever you are. Keep on making music. If thing does not work out well for you, we will always be here for you supporting you. I wish you all the best and growing success in all things that you do.

Brushfire and Monotone present, Zee Avi, Album outnow on amazon.com and record store near you. In Malaysia,you can purchase the CD at Rock Corner at only RM34.90.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Rantong said...

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