By Taylor McNally
Zetina Mosia–The Roundabout
Influence is a thing that is both ubiquitous in consideration, and highly absent. In an abstract sense we all think about it. Who got what riff from where, which glam musician from the 70’s are you most interested in–Top Five Dead Or Alive lists abound no matter the genre and no matter the place. And yet when it comes to the actual discussion of a particular piece of work, it becomes much harder to pin these things down. As an American, my perspective can be very skewed as to what exactly dictates an influence. Zetina Mosia is an artist from Ghana who has shown me how long these roots can truly stem.
While writing this review, I composed a list of all the artists I thought I heard inside the influences of The RoundAbout. This list ended up being pretty massive, spanning from Portishead, to Morphine, to Lauren Hill, TV on the Radio, Mingus and Coltrane. It occurred to me while making said list that I might be completely, totally off-base in this. I have no way of knowing whether any of these iconic (to me, as an American) bands actually influenced the artists responsible for this work, but it sure feels like it. The variety of soundscapes within this album is vast and rather impressive.
The first thing that really struck me about The RoundAbout was the immediacy in which it inducts the listener into the sound. “BionicWoman”spares no time in introduction, just dips directly into its groove. The shuddering bass line gives way to some very interesting sounds and constructions. Zetina herself wastes little time in giving you herself. The voice on this artist is full, robust and heartfelt–there are absolutely no times during the duration of the album which one thinks she may not be giving it her all. Quite the opposite, in fact. Zetina hits her lyrics with huge feeling, real emotion and most importantly, a lot of clarity. There is little doubt as to what she is saying, in terms of parsing the lyrics.
What these lyrics mean, however, could very well be highly open to interpretation. Personally, I derived themes of love, life and loss in all the songs. These get expressed in many different ways. Some tracks are maudlin, lamenting a loss of love. Others, like “NeonLights”, give the listener a very different image of Zetina as a person. “PhaseShift” is one of the most distinct tracks in these terms. I really enjoyed how she lets her voice play and dance along the production, while still maintaining a very strong throughline regarding the thematics at play in the lyrics. No songs sound out of place here, despite the fact that musically some are very different than others.
Which brings me to a few critiques. While I personally think ‘the more tracks on a record, the better’ in most every case, I believe that The RoundAbout suffers somewhat from being over-long. To put a finer point on that, it feels at times that this one album could have been two incredibly strong separate EPs. The state of releasing music nowadays dictates that as the more clever move in most every case. To crack apart striations in the layers of an onion, and make two different but equally delicious audio meals with it. Likewise, the drum patterns within this album tend to blend together, being distinguished by the fabulous brass work done by the players who help bring this album to life. The producer Kanif deserves special recognition for the work done here. This is a very compelling release, a great work that is perfect for all types of moods and environments. A bit of curation may be necessary on the listener’s part, and there could be a lot of work done in making each song truly unique from the others, but all in all I highly recommend you dive into The RoundAbout with a reckless abandon. You are practically guaranteed to find something you like.
Standout tracks: “Forever”, “PhaseShift”, “Up”, “NeonLights”
CHECKOUT THE ALBUM AT THE LINK BELOW: