Tracks: Gizelle Smith – ‘Agony Road’ and ‘Riot Cars’: The mighty Mighty Mocambos talent double drops to wrap up the year

WE’VE has occasion to get our collective groove on many a time here at BSM thanks to the soul and the soar of Gizelle Smith, who has one of those voices that us mere shower-singing mortals can only be dazzled by. Don’t try this at home, folks; failure doesn’t look good.

This past year she’s peeled away from her parent band, The Mighty Mocambos, to release a glorious set for Brighton’s Jalapeno Records entitled Revealing.

Back in March she took a Kate Bush track, “King Of The Mountain”, way into orbit; she followed that up with the conscious and stellar “Better Remember (They’re Controlling You)”; come high summer and she popped by to give us a track-by-track rundown of that album as it hit the racks.

Now, in closing the year, she’s finishing up her run of singles with a double drop, “Agony Road” and “Riot Cars”; you can delight in both of ’em right here.

Manchester born and raised, a career in music was always likely for the daughter of former Four Tops guitarist, musical director and songwriter Joe Smith; though I’m pretty sure that you can’t teach a voice of that quality.

Revealing follows in the footsteps of 2018’s Ruthless Day which, along with her 2009 debut, allowed Gizelle to stretch out into soul from the crisp funk of The Mighty Mocambos.

But it’s also a step forward, as the title might suggest: there are revelations, pointed political lyricism delivered with funk-soul luxury and glory. Some of the stripping away to truths was born from the numbness and pain of learning of her father’s death during recording. – which made the record very different from that initially conceived.

“I had an album worth of songs which I could no longer access from an emotional point of view,” she says, “so they had to be rewritten.”

And “Agony Road” and “Riot Cars”, the twin singles and the tracks which bookend Revealed, hit beautifully but hit hard.

The first is taut; nay, struttin’, built of a handclap beat on the two and answering electric piano Gizelle, she flies above, with a cathartic power and strength that makes you wish you could articulate and expunge and express with such vocal beauty. Whooshing space synth makes the whole thing cosmic.

She told us in June that it concerns “… the seven stages of grief. You can grieve for many things outside of the death of someone: the loss of a friendship, loss of a way of life, the loss of who you once were … and you need to make space for the process of recovery. Many of us ignore the need to allow ourselves the months and years to grieve because we’re too busy or simply because we don’t want to feel the emotions. So we run from them.”

The second drop, “Riot Cars”, has its genesis in a solitary lyric penned by Gizelle way back in 2014 following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the anger that followed. A big, proud, classically soul stormer of strings with a Rotary Connection flavour, Gizelle says: “History is documented through art forms and I worked hard to get the tone right. It’s a harrowing topic but it’s necessary to keep the conversations about it open.

“US police departments [are] guilty of racial profiling and using excessive, often deadly force. ‘Karens’ calling the cops on people of colour, simply to vilify them. It’s all being captured for the world to finally see and it has been a tough, emotional few years witnessing it. Still, it’s important that we do. It’s a pretty rotten apple that needs throwing out.”

Gizelle Smith’s Revealing is out now digitally, on CD and on vinyl; treat yourself to some lush soul as it should be over at her Bandcamp page or visit your friendly local record store.

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