MoZella

Belle Isle

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MoZella's sophomore album, Belle Isle, named for the popular landmark in her native Detroit, is a bit of a make-it-or-break-it recording, coming three years after her debut, I Will. Since then, she's moved from childhood hero Madonna's label, Maverick, to Universal Motown, a good mix for her poppy, R&B-influenced style. Belle Isle is a collection of radio-friendly songs that builds on I Will. While more consistent than its predecessor, there is no clear stand-out song like the hip-hop tinged "Killing Time" that her debut offered. Still, all 11 of the album's songs are accessible and equal or better than what is played on Top 40 radio. MoZella's vocals are similar to a higher-pitched Macy Gray, with a grainy-metallic quality that works to her advantage. Lyrically, the songs are well-written and make sense, which is all most fans of pop music want and expect. Musically Belle Isle is rich in texture and hooks, though at times overly reliant upon the synthesizer, which can make it sound somewhat overproduced. Top tracks include "Freezing," "Let's Stop Calling it Love," and "Thank You" which, incidentally, are also the three tracks that appear on her The Straits EP, which preceded the full-length album by several months. "Freezing" features a cool, reserved, jazzy vocal reminiscent of Eilen Jewell, while "Let's Stop Calling It Love" is a fun, jingly song that features a series of tempo changes and a catchy chorus. "Thank You" and the finale "Twilight Girls" are the album's most stripped-down songs and prove that MoZella's singing alone is enough to carry her music without the aid of the dance-heavy, synthesized sound that is present throughout most of recording. Overall, Belle Isle is a successful album from an emerging artist who sounds comfortable and confident.

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