Zialand

Unbridled & Ablaze

(Glittermouth Records)

This Norwegian singer-songwriter tends to get straight to the heart of the dilemmas and situations she opts to write about. A good case in point is the song Running Cold, about an acquaintance with deep troubles. Her early musical experiences in the US found her liaising with bass god Marcus Miller and Chris Botti. Her personal circumstances led to somewhat clandestine travels around the globe. Now she comes up for air, releasing what she wants to on her terms.

Starting cut Thunder hits a steady pulse, with gentle piano, pounding drums holding something back and strangely vocal pacing and phrasing that reminds me of The Corrs. It’s pretty alright, but hints a strength that is underlying and enduring. And what a lovely singing timbre ! Feminine and tuneful but not wimpy or coy. A most impressive opening number.

Come Over is stately and solemn, a soft sway of a song and beguiling with it. Another lass tortured by a lover’s behaviour, maybe – but gorgeously handled. This is perhaps Scandinavian Soul, not aping American delivery or incorporating the notes stretched every-which-way employed by the Careys and her like. A pretty good song that I could hear Barbara Dickson interpreting. On now to Running Cold and the mood is altogether darker, weighed down by concern but like Suzanne Vega not overdone. The soft-focus flute in the arrangement adds a neat element. There is a real style about this subtle but impassioned approach that Zialand adopts. Even if the chords are All Along The Watchtower.

I Love You already sounds like a classic California ballad. The backdrop is kept muted and pent-up and maybe this is the best vocal on the collection. The words are bitter if you listen closely..the thin line between, eh ? Next up is Fever with a stomp of a beat but not too fast and a more breathy vocal, verging on conspiratorial. Should be in a film soundtrack, this one. Her Norah Jones-type vocal range finds good use on Cleaved, solemn piano-inthe-mist centred, the singing is again so affecting.

Shelter is apparently aimed at her daughter. It’s taken very slowly, Roberta Flack-like and it’s a lovely composition, it must be said. On the verge of TOO personal, in a way. Don’t Look Down is another slow effort, sounding like the last song in a stage musical to this scribe. Things conclude with Landslide which is not the F Mac song.

Not a huge distance from Kate Bush in ambience this song is very shadowy indeed.

Overall, for this listener the production on these songs could have had more muscle, but that siren voice is hard to resist…Zialand has made a record that makes sense late at night, when all its nuances can be appreciated. Something different.

Pete Sargeant

 



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(Thanks to Gary L)

Zialand's new album 'Unbridled & Ablaze' is out now on Glittermouth Records. 

For more information visit her official website here: http://bit.ly/2JLG96Q

Zialand