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Zamajobe - Ndoni Yamanzi

2009-02-25 16:06
Ndoni Yami
He gave her the opportunity to spend a few months in the BMG Demo Studios, honing her craft. Unhindered by her Idols experience, Zamajobe followed up on the opportunity and teaming up with then new-comer Eric Pailani (on guitar) she went on to record her first album, Ndawo Yami.

The debut was received with both critical and popular acclaim, going gold and garnering four SAMA nominations. Despite her age, Ndawo Yami was a mature album that presented a beautiful and smooth voice that opted for lower, cooler tones over the audacious vocal acrobatics Zamajobe's co-contestants in Idols were likely to aspire to. This immediately set her apart and worked to her advantage as it fit in perfectly with the musical moods of producer Eric Pailani. Together the pair produced an elegant, jazzy album that established Zamajobe as a notable presence on South Africa’s music scene.

With Ndoni Yamanzi, the two pick up right where they left off. Pailani's production is like polished bedrock upon which Zamajobe lays breezy, dancing vocals resonating with the rich textures of Zulu village life. From the first track the music is beautiful. At times it holds you like the view of a night-lit urban skyline, while at others it rolls you along like a slow drive overlooking an undiscovered beach.

But essentially, the problem with Ndoni Yamanzi is that this beauty, this scenic-ness, can only carry you over for so long before it falls into the formulaic pitfall that is 'mood music'. By the time the 11-track album reaches an end you become aware of having comfortably settled into a single emotion from beginning to end. This gives it the sense of crossing over from being easy listening to being bland and unchallenging lounge music. Pailani begins to appear like a one-trick pony of smooth jazz and adult contemporary, while Zamajobe's reserved vocals begin to reflect a timid range rather than musical maturity. There also tends to be an empty, almost passionless feel behind the album's lyrics – as if the images are meant solely for appearance rather than evocation. To be heard rather than listened to.

While these criticisms might have been minor hitches to be ignored on Ndawo Yami, this album follows so closely along its predecessor’s path that it can’t help but appear derivative. The only difference being that Ndoni Yamanzi lacks the first album’s novelty.
Like many other young hopefuls, Zamojobe began her career as an aspirant on the South African Idols stage. Pushing her brand of low-toned, laid-back vocals, she went on to make it up all the way to the Top 10 before receiving the cut. At that point, not only had she already established a strong audience following, but Dave Thompson, one of the judges, acted on his instinct and decided to follow up on what he regarded as Zama’s potential.

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musicfan 2009/05/12 12:48 PM
  • Rating:
I am slightly disappointed with this album. For one she is restricting her beautiful voice too much and listening to her vocals on this album becomes frustrating because you can sense that she is holding back, maybe its for artistic reasons but it becomes frustrating.But the music is beautiful, she is maturing and finding her space musically which unfortunately so many of our incredibly talented artists fail to do so kudos to her for that.I love Ngineme.
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