Artist Watch: It's Hip To Be Square, According To Zarif and Her 'Box Of Secrets'

Friday, September 17, 2010

Clear some space in your pop-soul finger snapping pleasures playlist, you're gonna need it for what Zarif, Britain newest export has to offer. I know. I know. Another pop-soul Briton? Another so-in-so to tide me over till Amy Winehouse wipes her nose and gets right? Yeah, I was skeptical, even quasi bored to even think the notion, because let's face it, there has been a swarm of Winehouse clones popping up, cashing in on her absence. Since I'm nice, I give folks the benefit of the doubt, and I took a gamble on Zarif's recently released debut album, Box of Secrets and was pleasantly surprised at the how gives you the urge to tap, stamp and shake your sillies out. It's zany fun.

Fans of Natasha Bendingfield's summery feel good numbers, Paloma Faith's old school quirk and Little Jackie's snark will enjoy what Box of Secrets contains. There are numerous genre flip-flops throughout the set. Zarif jumps into 1930's Duke Ellington inspired swinging title track then goes into the ironically named Blues n' funk horn stomper, "Silence Room", and back to the Middle Eastern sounds of "Breakout". Zarif is most impressive when she lyrically dives in on "The Day The Music Left Me", a mid-tempo ballad that has a soul more akin to Beverley Knight, than Winehouse. She also tries out the sunshine soul a la Friends of Distinction on numbers like the single, "Let Me In" and mid-tempo "Summer In Your Eyes".

Zarif is quickly gaining up on the debuts of Dutch singer Nabiha (Cracks) and Ellie Goulding (Lights) as being one of my pop surprises of the year purely on how effortlessly the music is derived. No frills, and nothing to seriously ponder over, Zarif's Box of Secrets is pop minded soul that is indulgent enough that there is no guilt involved. So dig in after the cut!

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