Fragile and Strong (dedicated to my lovely fiancée, who introduced me to ZAZ)
French chanson anyone? Unexpectedly, me got a little hooked on some of that.
First time I heard of ZAZ was through this video sometime last summer: impressive performance and a great song even if you don't understand the sincere lyrics with truly existential connotations.
Later, I decided to give ZAZ more attention by listening to her self-titled debut. So how did that sound? Not too impressive after a couple of spins, and I did not really see any room for growing on me. Time went by though, and in autumn I found myself enjoying this CD quite a lot.
I do not have much experience with pop music, but I guess I am capable of perceiving and evaluating it. So what caught my attention with ZAZ? First, the voice. Isabelle Geffroy can sing: she can be emotional ("Trop sensible," "Port coton," "Éblouie par la nuit"), she can have fun (the crazy galloping "Ni oui ni non," one of my personal favorites), she can be serious ("Le long de la route,") or... in love ("J'aime a nouveau"). There is a lot of sincerity in her slightly husky voice and lyrics (which are worth reading by the way). Inside the fragile girl lurks explosive charisma and vocal cords capable of serious soul impact... Listen to "Éblouie par la nuit" or ZAZ's (superior in my opinion) rendition of Édith Piaf's "Dans ma rue" and feel for yourself.
Now to the music, and that's something usually more important to me than vocals. What we hear on ZAZ's debut can be described as chanson with some jazz elements. While I am used to heavy and/or complex metal riffs, here I encountered something really different: acoustic guitars, the upright bass, and the piano at the core plus occasional atmospheric keyboards, trombone and other brass instruments (on "Prends garde a ta langue" and "La fée"), and the violin. A big fat plus is that the music is not there just to accompany the singer; there are some great guitar and bass licks as well as active participation from other instruments (check out the guitar-violin duel in the second half of "Ni oui ni non"). Granted, there are simpler songs featuring just the guitar or the piano, but what makes the music generally enjoyable, after all, is that each instrument, where present, makes a meaningful contribution to the song's sound, and the interplay between the musicians results in rich harmony and simply enjoyable tunes.
Nothing to add: listen, have fun, and be happy! Always!