[Album Review] Billie Zizi- Gun Metal Dress
4.0Rating
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Release Date: February 7th, 2015
Label: Independent

The opening track (and title track) to Billie Zizi’s ‘Gun Metal Dress’ is a rock solid blues/folk tune, which is strongly evocative of Ricky Lee Jones. Although highlighted by the excellent fiddling of veteran Cam Neufeld (who happens to be Zizi’s father), the music is very much centred on Zizi’s sweet but strong vocals and her stellar blues guitar playing. But that is just the beginning…

Zizi has a varied musical background (can you believe she was once in a thrash metal band?) and has travelled the world, including stops in West Africa, Asia and Europe. She puts all of this to good use here as she pushes the envelope and explores new musical terrain. “The Other Room”, for example, sports a stutter rhythm and a vaguely Eastern vibe to the melody. Zizi also brings in elements of R&B, like a female Bill Withers. On the other hand, she takes a more jazzy approach to her innovative vocalizing on “The Sky in the City”.

Another high point is “Windog Blues” with Neufeld setting the stage with the bittersweet screech of his violin. From there Zizi takes over in a fairly traditional blues number that feature some exquisitely restrained guitar distortion. Arguably the album’s standout is “You Do Me No Good” on which her guitar playing is at its most gorgeous. The vocals here are particularly striking as her voice occasionally cracks under the emotional strain. When she repeatedly moans “… you drag me down…” you can literally feel yourself being pulled into the maw of an unhealthy but irresistible relationship.

Although ‘Gun Metal Dress’ is her debut full-length, Zizi has been around the music business for years, so it should come as no surprise that she displays such poise here. At a minimum that we can look forward to more cleverly arranged and crisply produced blues/jazz/folk as her career unfolds. However, if she continues the innovation that is in evidence throughout her debut then we can expect something even better – an idiosyncratic sound all of her own.