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AAA Music | 25 February 2020

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Gorillaz Celloist Izzi Dunn releases ‘Cries and Smiles’ on November 1st

| On 22, Sep 2010

After collaborations and tours with the Gorillaz, Mark Ronson and The Good, The Bad and The Queen, multi-instrumentalist and singer Izzi Dunn returns with sophomore album ‘Cries and Smiles,’ released 01 November.

Izzi represents the next step in a proud tradition of British soul that dates back to Loose Ends and Omar, and has been moulded by everyone from Curtis Mayfield, Tracy Chapman and Prince, to Portishead, Massive Attack and Chaka Khan. The album enlists the help of The Pharcyde’s Booty Brown, Mark Ronson musical director and Stevie Wonder collaborator Stuart Zender, electronic disco Jedi Tom Middleton and The Brand New Heavies’ Andrew Levy.

The record’s title track, ‘Cries and Smiles’ in itself encompasses the highs, lows, conflicts, contradictions and very nature of modern life – a theme which ploughs the very centre of the album, which, incidentally, Izzi produced. “There are very few things in life we’re able to control, but we always keep a check, whether we’re aware of it or not, of our tears and our smiles,” she says. ‘Tits & Ass’ is a confrontational song which shows the contradictions of sex in our so-called modern and progressive society: “We use sex every day to get by, or to get on,” says Izzi. “If it’s subliminal and tasteful we buy into it as something to admire, but the more blatant it becomes the more we vilify it, whether we like to admit this hypocrisy or not.”

‘Loser’ is collaboration with Booty Brown, who Izzi met whilst touring with the last Gorillaz album. “I love Booty’s interpretation of what I’m saying here. In a world savaged by financial ruin we are still judged mostly by our material wealth – this remains the judge of our successes and failures.” ‘Oblivious’ is a stripped down track, with no big production. “It needed to be,” says Izzi. “Quite simply, it’s about my anger surrounding the war. I was angry at the government for aligning with the US, angry at society and furious at myself for being so apathetic towards the circumstances.”

‘Kill Me Slow’ focuses on the pain of destructive relationships and the lengths they can spread to. “It’s about insidiousness and betrayal by the people closest to you and it tackles the hurt and how it eats you up,” says Izzi. “The production was very much inspired by old 60s film scores, by Serge Gainsbourg, Scott Walker, but also Portishead and Massive Attack.” And finally, on a lighter note, ‘Nothing But Love,’ co-written with house producer Tom Middleton is a tongue in cheek look at all the ‘walk a million miles’ style clichés that have been written about love over the years. “It’s probably fairer to say there isn’t a thing most people wouldn’t do for true love,” she says.

The last few years have been immense for Izzi. The universally positive reaction to debut album ‘The Big Picture’ set in motion a domino effect that pushed a mutual friend to recommend her to Damon Albarn. He knew straight away he wanted her vibe on ‘Demon Days,’ and not only that, but he wanted Izzi to head up string section Demon Strings for the Gorillaz’s world tours.

Mark Ronson was next, and Izzi spent a further nine months on the road as part of his all-star revue. Add to that a spell with The Good, The Bad and The Queen, Albarn’s other supergroup, and you get the picture. The dominos were falling thick and fast, and over the years her talents have littered output by Roots Manuva, Bugz In The Attic, The Brand New Heavies, Soul II Soul and George Harrison.

“It’s been like a surreal bubble,” says Izzi. “Touring means you’re constantly moving, being pushed into circumstances with people you don’t know, and performing with such high adrenaline levels. You see so many contrasting countries and cities, but as part of a huge pop band. At one point I was on a tour bus with Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allan, who’s in his 60s, Paul Simonon from The Clash and Simon Tong from The Verve, discussing life philosophies.”

Been a fan for a long time, this album is a testament to her talent. Play on Izzi.

Jazzie B.

her ears are made of the purest platinum….. working with her is always an education and a pleasure. She really understands boom bap science… i am a big fan…

Roots MANUVA