(27 July 2003) City Lights is the latest project featuring ex-Fula vocalist Zoe Stafford. Joined with Tim Diggle (backing vocals, all instruments, production), the duo have generated a five-track promo in the run up--we hope--to a full length album. In addition to a preview with 30-second snippets from what follows, the promo includes a radio edit and full length version of "If You Could See Me Now" and two other tracks.
Says Zoe, "It's pop but slightly dancy--oh, i don't know what it is really. It's very good though--a really refreshing change." When asked what she has been up to between the One Window release and this project, she responded, "I managed to blag my way onto The Australia Pink Floyd's Autumn tour as a backing singer, and have been all over the shop, including HollyWood and the Royal Albert Hall. A bit surreal actually."
The "Preview" track presents a chorus from"If You Could See Me Now" and then fades into the choruse from "The Day It Rained" and finally into the chorus of "10,000 Times." With interest piqued the next up is the roughly four minute radio edit of IIf You Could See Me Now." We immediately noticed the pop flavour in Zoe's vocals, especially as compared to her work with Fula. The track is rhythmic with a latin oriented dance theme, especially underscored by acoustic guitar; keyboards provide the perfect texture behind Zoe's stunning vocal work. The multi-layered harmonies are especially well textured and rich and the purity of Zoe's voice is best heard there and in the lovely reprise that concludes the edit.
"The Day It Rained" is a contrasting contemporary piece sung more with an R&B edge than the opening track. Light yet modern keyboard washes and crisp percussion underpin the dramatically soaring vocal track. Rhythmically building, the material clearly illustrates the whispier edge of Zoe's remarkable voice; a lovely multi-layered a capella bridge illustrates the singers versatility blending clarity with whispiness.
Zoe's amusing spoken words open and close the "10,000 Times," which begins backed by acoustic guitar. This is the number that is the most "Zoe Stafford"-oriented on the recording. A bluesy ballad, the material builds with acoustic percussion to full electronic instrumentation as the song concludes. The singer's emotional delivery is clear as her voice soars to deliver the lyrical message. A delightful track. The full length (almost six minute) version of "If You Could See Me Now" provides a lovely conclusion to the promo. It is certain to delight Zoe's staunch fans.
Our expections of City Lights have certainly been set with this all-new promo. The two artists seem to have found both a groove and a sound that is likely to draw attention from a broad audience. We'll keep you posted of their progress here.