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Zero 7 - When It Falls


Review: Jack Foley

IT'S pretty much normal service resumed for Zero 7, three years after the release of their stunning debut album, Simple Things.

When It Falls, which features many of the same collaborations which helped to make the first album so memorable, as well as a few notable additions, is another supremely seductive piece of chill-out, which proves that the debut was no mistake.

It may not be as inventive as some might have hoped, or as strong a follow-up as, say, Coldplay's Rush of Blood to the Head, but it is an exquisitely crafted, supremely beautiful record, capable of wiping away the misery of any rotten day.

Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns seem to have cornered the market in making music to soothe you, especially in their choice of laidback vocalists. Hence, the dream-like, husky tones of Sia Furler and Sophie Barker are back, as is the supremely mellow vibe associated with Mozez.

Bolstering them is the presence of Tina Dico, on tracks such as lead single, Home, and The Space Between, which continue to possess all the hallmarks of Zero 7 - if a little more mellower than ever before.

The album gets off to a fine start with Warm Sound, which features a variety of strings, acoustic guitars, wurlitzers and flute to the familiar sounds of Mozez' soft vocals, evoking memories of the beginning of Simple Things.

Home follows in its wake, cleverly introducing new vocalist, Dico, and some neat trombone, before Furler takes control with the divine Somersault, a passive, breezy daydream of a track, with echoes of country.

It is refreshing to find Furler back to her vocal best, stretching herself in ways that you feel her solo material never does (however good it remains).

Barker takes the limelight during tracks such as Passing By and In Time, which make neat companion pieces to her work on Simple Things, creaping up on you like a tantalising whisper in your ear.

There is an effortless ability, within Barker's vocals, to chill you out, and Hardaker and Binns ensure that the beats and harmonies are such that they never become intrusive.

The one, minor criticism of the album is that it plays things very safe - too safe, maybe - for there is very little in the way of progression for the more discerning listener.

Fleeting moments, such as the Bonobo/Lalo Schiffrin-inspired Look Up, make you yearn for more in the same vein, while the instrumental title track, When It Falls, hints at something darker.

But when the burden of expectation is so high, you can understand why the duo have opted to stick with what they know. If it aint broke, why fix it?

What they have done, however, is to please the die-hard followers, while hinting at possible future directions.

The result is deeply alluring and a sure contender for one of the chillout soundtracks to the blissed out Summer.

Track listing:
1. Warm Sound
2. Home
3. Somersault
4. Over Our Heads
5. Passing By
6. When It Falls
7. The Space Between
8. Look Up
9. In Time
10. Speed Dial No. 2
11. Morning Song

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