When fashion model Rosie Vela branched out into singing and songwriting with her debut album Zazu, skeptics suspected that she was just another pretty face who was trying to get by on her looks. But truth be told, Zazu is a solid pop/rock effort that could be described as an interesting combination of Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan. Vela doesn't have a great voice -- her voice is small and thin, but like jazz great Chet Baker, she demonstrates that you don't have to have a fantastic vocal range to be expressive and deliver a meaningful album. Favoring a relaxed, cool-toned style of singing, Vela also demonstrates that she's a talented songwriter -- in fact, she wrote most of the songs herself. Mitchell and Steely Dan are obviously major influences, and the strong Steely Dan influence isn't surprising when you consider that Zazu was produced by Gary Katz (who is best known for his work with that group) and that former Dan members Donald Fagen (keyboards) and Walter Becker (guitar) play on many of the songs. Vela showed a lot of promise on this album, which wasn't the big seller it should have been.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson