[Read Patrick Corcoran’s recent interview with Izzi Dunn here.]
Izzi Dunn’s third album Recycle Love landed with little fanfare upon its original release in June earlier this year. But now, with a fresh head of steam behind her, it is getting an extremely well deserved re-launch. To those unfamiliar with the name, there’s every chance you’ve heard her work on someone else’s record or at another artist’s concert.
Though hard to label such a multi-dimensional talent, she has (somewhat reductively) been primarily labeled as a cellist. Notably, in 2005 she formed Demon Strings, a crack set of the UK’s finest string players associated with Damon Albarn in his Gorillaz guise around the time of their acclaimed Demon Days album.
Touring with both Gorillaz and Albarn’s other project The Good, The Bad and The Queen, led to countless other gigs including more Albarn related shenanigans with his Monkey: Journey To The West show, stints touring with Mark Ronson, and work alongside Cody Chesnutt and Jamie T, to name but a few. Given those hectic itineraries, it seems barely possible that she would have time to release works of her own, but several EPs came along in addition to 2010’s Cries & Smiles album.
Recycle Love is the kind of understated, often overlooked album that, once heard, nestles comfortably alongside better known but equally enjoyable albums. Part of the reason for this is the presence, on six tracks, of Dennis “Dego” McFarlane of 4hero on production duties. He lends his customary silky smooth sound to proceedings, wrapping everything in a blanket of bubbling, understated soul stylings. Unsurprisingly, the string arrangements are dipped in finesse and coated in 24 karat gold, but more surprising is the smokily seductive voice that grows stronger with every listen.
What marks the album out is the way in which Dunn balances power and subtlety throughout. Album opener “Our Time” is a strident up-tempo funk-pop number laced with punchy horns and a message of powerful positivity. Meanwhile, “C.O.N.T.R.O.L.” has a bass line and attitude that wouldn’t be out of place on Janet Jackson’s album of the same name, both of which demonstrate an urgent funkiness about them that grabs hold and shakes hips.
Yet other moments are blanketed in swathes of smoothing subtlety. “Belong” is a lesson in keeping things simple, as a combination of strings and Dunn’s warm vocals combine with very little else to create a somber, affecting piece. The title track’s intergalactic synths and flute lines simmer and bubble deliciously until a mellow bass line propels it to a blissed-out nirvana.
Elsewhere “Look Up to the Sky” has a touch of the Foreign Exchange’s blissful breezy soul about it and “Love Interrupted” with its swooning strings gives way to a vibe that UK soul legend Omar would be proud of. Best of all though is “Unforgiven” with its mournful cello and piano intro giving way to a shuffling, urgent track with choral wails and typically gorgeous strings throughout. It’s not hard to imagine this as the theme to the somber Bond movie they’ve yet to be brave enough to make.
If ever an album deserved to be given another chance, Recycle Love is the one. It’s classy, sophisticated and unafraid to speak its mind.
Notable Tracks: “Belong” | “C.O.N.T.R.O.L.” | “Our Time” | “Unforgiven”