ALBUM REVIEW A monarch involves royalty and an elevated social status. Lady Zamar declares her reign over the sonic kingdom of local pop with her latest album, writes Phumlani S Langa.
Lady Zamar Monarch
Available on all streaming platforms
As far as pop music goes locally, Lady Zamar sits at the top of the pile. Her new album Monarch plays out like a love story set against a backdrop of deep House.
I am not a fan of this genre as I don’t believe the idea of timeless music is a cornerstone of this movement. I do, however, enjoy the idea of a love song draped over this otherwise stagnant sound. This is Love sounds like falling in love on holiday.
A brother is fortunate enough to win the affections of Lady Zamar and she wants nothing more than for him to know that “deep inside / this is love”.
You see what she did with just that short line, it’s innocent as love can be and yet a bit steamy, you get me?
The club thumper has the make-up of most House music, but the production is enterprising and stretches the confines of this sound as far as possible.
This is also the lead single and has an accompanying Kyle White video as it seems he’s safely secured the tender for visual treatments at Universal Music.
Adore sees Zamar dive even deeper into House instrumentals, but I enjoy that her choruses don’t make use of that chanty approach you’d hear on a Katy Perry or Taylor Swift song, hooks designed for sing-alongs. Miss me with that mess.
The drums play a large role on this album. If you stripped Zamar’s delicate but controlled vocals from most of these songs, you’d still have a gleaming gem on your hands. Don’t do that though or do it. I’m puzzled why I can’t find more locally made instrumentals from popular albums. Imagine how Touch My Blood would sound without … anyway back to Monarch.
This sister sings like she loves hard. Her voice can be saccharine at times but still very sensual, and the lyrics are militant. Recently, singer Babes Wodumo posted a video on social media making fun of Zamar’s acne. If I were Babes I guess I’d take a shot as well, knowing I would never release an album as well put together as Monarch and I was only three songs deep.
A tough-sounding guitar solo rips through my headphones as Be Mine elevates towards a crescendo. At this point I do find myself wondering how Zamar would sound on a soul beat.
In my opinion, her vocal range can get a little repetitive but her phrasing of the actual words and how these fit into the groove of a song are unrivalled, which saves everything.
She takes an off-ramp from the House highway and steers towards an indie hop flavour on Delirium with high hats riding tactically in tune to this interesting sound.
I can’t help but think of artists such as an early Santigold or even Dua Lipa. I get this feeling again on I Wish, which is a scorcher of a song. This, Mary Jane, ICU, Sharp Shooter and Fat Girl are all sitting cosy on my picks of this record. That is most of the record by the way.
What I was most excited about is the Rapsody feature on the swan song. Rapsody’s Eve album is just a few weeks old and it is firmly in my top 10 hip-hop records released anywhere. She naturally brings that fire to her 16s.
Rapsody sprays the venom: “Boss, queen, matriarch freedom is when you love who are, where we ain’t end where we start, freedom is when you find a light in the dark,” as Zamar pleads for freedom.