Jazz music has been contorting and transforming itself since the beginning of time. Now it finds a fresh mellow and honeyed vibe thanks to pop newcomer Izzy Bizu. Her collection of cheery songs is refined and smooth on her debut record, A Moment of Madness (released 9/2/2016 via Epic Records). It boasts splashes off soul, pop, R&B, and jazz that all melt together in an imperfect, lovestruck way.
The album begins with “Diamond,” a track that recalls the late and great Amy Winehouse. It has power but manages to be throaty and uplifting at the same time. Such a slow burning track would seem like an unusual way to start off the record, but Bizu takes it to an otherworldly place. Complete with a string orchestra and some electric jazz guitar, the track bursts with the intention of being someone bigger than yourself.
You’re a diamond in the rough
I can’t fight the feeling
Bizu reminds us that everyone takes time to blossom into something beautiful. Grace under pressure really does exist, and it builds us up. She sings about embracing what makes you special; coming into your own can be scary but rewarding. Diamonds are formed under pressure, just as the choices we have to make force us to take a certain journey.
“White Tiger” is clearly the most radio-friendly of the tracks, with a simple pop beat it stands out as it doesn’t have the same soulful twinges of Adele and Amy Winehouse that are evident in her other songs. At a quick first listen it’s easy to tell there’s a glimmer of something wondrous. From the minute the bouncing piano hits your ears, you can tell it contrasts with all the other pop songs on today’s Top 40 stations.
Watch: “White Tiger” – Izzy Bizu
Izzy Bizu has a voice that is pure, clear, rich and soft at the same time. One can tell there is a raw talent in her singing abilities. Unlike most pop stars of today, she sings like someone who is making music simply because that’s what she loves to do. There is a strong sense of a quiet and humble soulfulness to her music.
“Skinny” is a ray of sunshine. It teases the listener and leaves them wanting to spin around and let loose. If there ever was a song to be twirling around to in some sort of concert hall, this would be it. There is a frisky attitude conveyed through pumping horns, and it all feels so nonchalant.
The playfulness continues on the track “Naïve Soul” where she sings sassily:
You naïve soul
Life is sugar
You naïve soul
Life is wonder
She is purely effervescent as the song swirls in sultry old-school vibes. It is unfettered in its remarks about reality, as she admits she’s “starry-eyed and lost.” She takes the position of the girl who’s not afraid to let go and see where the future takes her. She does it in an unchallenged way, confessing her doubts can’t phase her:
Blindfolded my doubts ’til I’m in a dream, in a dream
This same finesse is played out on “Adam & Eve,” an upbeat R&B inflected track that soars high in its spirited fun. It’s about being trapped in someone else’s mind game, but she has such fun with it anyway. A look at the retro music video that features her and her band travelling conveys the happy-go-lucky feel of the track. The lyricism is clever and sharp:
All your obsessions are haunting me
The walls are closing in, possessing me
Holding my desire in your hands
Raise the fire storm, unveil your plans
Watch: “Adam & Eve” – Izzy Bizu
At this point in the album, one can be sure: it is effortlessly constructed in its swinging melodies. It is an album many will overlook, however it deserves as much recognition as Adele’s 25. A Moment of Madness has the joyous songs, ballads, and bluesy soulfulness of a dream.
Bizu’s expert storytelling skills are put on full display with “Glorious.” The song is about being the one who didn’t get picked. The other girl is so perfect, Izzy will never compare. It’s tinted with heartache, but even with the tension that the melody creates it still feels happy despite the sadness.
Got me caught in the middle
And it hurts just a little
It’s obvious, She’s glorious
I lie awake on my pillow
And it fills me with sorrow
It’s obvious, She’s glorious
Izzy Bizu is only 22, but she sings with such a passion and a wisdom of someone who has been around the world with everything one’s heart can take and then some. Yet she still comes out smiling on the other side.
It is an album of strength. Even when she admits she is broken and lost, she knows she will find a way down the right path. The melancholy tracks are still sugared in ecstasy but not in an artificial way. The beauty is in finding the little moments to breathe. It’s about stumbling and falling bit still gathering your composure and picking yourself up. This she does with style as she croons her way through, as shown with the track “Gorgeous.” Her vocals are stunning and give off a Corinne Bailey Rae-ish sensation. There is a rasp to the sweetness reminiscent of “Put Your Records On.”
The deluxe version of the album boasts four bonus tracks including “Fly With Your Eyes Closed” -one of the best songs on the album. It toys with the idea of instability, a prompt to trust your instincts and take leaps of faith. The chorus is elevated and paints an image. The other girl who’s perfect for her lover is a “porcelain doll” but it’s okay because she’s asking for him to take a chance on her.
So fly with your eyes closed
Jump like it’s concrete
Fly with your eyes closed
Darling it’s just a dream
There is also the Honne collaboration, “Someone That Loves You” which showcases her expert crossover capabilities. She can transition from belting out soulful swinging tunes to an electronic dance track in a heartbeat. Surprisingly enough, “Someone That Loves You” still fits perfectly with the rest of the record. As a slower pop song, it compliments the other songs. The pulsing synths and moody vocals of Honne balance out Bizu’s candied voice and warm up the track.
Watch: “Someone That Loves You” – HONNE & Izzy Bizu
Love has its moments of chaos and calm. Sometimes even the most perfect of couples that seem completely unshakable falter from time to time. But A Moment of Madness has a song for each stage of falling for someone. It doesn’t lend itself to angry breakup ballads or weepy anguished heartfelt tracks. Instead, Izzy Bizu guides us through the ups and downs with rose-coloured glasses, happily romanticizing the process.
In all its vibrancy, A Moment of Madness is a record that shines with few weak points, but it’s still purposeful and presents numerous opportunities for love, for growth, and for reflection. Whatever the case may be, it is an album that is lively and full of positivity. It is steeped in hope, poised in its instrumentals, and for a debut it is extremely strong. Izzy Bizu pulls it off and makes her entrance in funky fashion.
cover photo: Izzy Bizu © Epic Records