(4 / 5)
Quite apt that this album from this singer is on a label called Jalapeno. It’s hot stuff. Or rather this singer’s voice is. One of the best vocal performances on any record I have heard in 2016.
Izo Fitzroy is a new name to me, but I’m surprised she’s stayed under my radar to be honest, with such a voice. Some slick material too. Raw, dynamic performances and honest song writing across this bluesy, soulful dozen.
A Londoner born-and-bred, Izo’s music is influenced by the raw power of female blues singers such as Janis Joplin, Susan Tedeschi, and Beth Hart, as well as soul men such as Bill Withers fused with her own gospel roots from years spent singing in, leading and directing touring gospel choirs. You can tell she’s got versatile experience with that instrument of hers.
You can tell she’s a singer’s singer, and no surprise then; she’s a sought-after vocal coach. Her control is exemplary. But this is no showboating exercise or ego outing. She knows when and where to pull back and let the song do the work, as well as when to go for it. Nothing is over egged. Nothing is over cooked. No Lillies are gilded here, folks.
Since the age of 19, Izo has been singing as part of the Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir in London. Gospel music has been such a big part of her life for over 10 years that she even created her own choir in 2013; the Great Sea Gospel Choir, whose aim is to bring the joy and power of gospel music to those who wouldn’t usually get the opportunity to experience it.
Gospel is all about an uplifting experience and this album is all of that. Izo’s songs are built for performance, with sincere and compelling lyrics delivered over tight and melodic grooves.
Her music has seen her touring America’s Deep South dive bars and collaborating with the cream of New Orleans. Whilst out there Izo joined the ‘St Joan of Arc’ gospel choir and got to experience traditional Southern gospel music. Soaking up the local talent, she also immersed herself amongst New Orleans finest local jazz and blues musicians in the nightly jam sessions in the local bars, including with Grammy award winners Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen.
It was while she was living in New Orleans for the best part of a year, that she wrote the bulk of debut album “Skyline”, inspired by her jam sessions with Jon Cleary’s band, ‘The Absolute Monster Gentleman’. The production duties came courtesy of Dr Rubberfunk, (yes, really!) who initially met her via Twitter, to collaborate on the opening track “Day By Day”.
This creative partnership flourished and grew into a whole album’s worth of material, producing a record that channels her gutsy gospel style and colourful bluesy keyboard flair, through the vintage funk grooves of her producer, recorded in his South London studio.
Her lyrics cover inequality, depression, mental health and death. She draws from her personal experiences of loss of loved ones, seeing the poverty in the Deep South of U.S.A and working for a mental health charity.
But don’t be fooled by the sombre topics; there is a palpable uplifting and positive message at the core of this impressive work. A message of empowerment, overcoming obstacles and seeking out the positive in dark times.
I doubt that there will be many dark times for Izo now the secret is out! I think she is well and truly heading for the brightest of light with such a talent, and this cracking calling card should open many doors for her. Auto tune, no chance………….
By Simon Redley
(1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’