Local Love: Inzi
Photo: Gerry Garcia
Houston is a really big city. I know that’s no real news, but what I mean is that there are so many talented artists here that you have the odds stacked against you in hearing most of them. Luckily for me, I write a weekend piece, and I get to discover new artists every week. Recently, when I was gearing up for The Best of The Week, I stumbled upon an artist named Inzi. What transpired is one of the most natural album reviews I’ve ever written. Like a mix of Sara Bareilles, Regina Spektor, and Lorde, Inzi uses intense vocals to create a sound that’s almost otherworldly, while still sounding current and fresh. The album, produced by Jonas Ekman and recorded in the home of Grammy nominee Sarah Kelly, utilizes pop hooks and well garnered musicians to create a sort of indie folk pop gem. From start to finish, the nineteen year old Spring native quickly proves that her talents are beyond her years, and that we all need to start paying more attention to the suburbs of this city.
To be fair, this album was released on June 2nd, so it’s not really too old or too new. That being said, the singer songwriter doesn’t waste time getting things started on the catchy opener, “Size of Heart.” The simplicity in which she utilizes just a piano and a drumkit are impressive while her heavy handed vocals glide in and out of the track. Without studio trickery, she hits the high notes with ease, while singing about love and the ability to get caught up in the simplicity of emotion. The hook heavy song later incorporates other instruments to create a symphony of pure indie pop bliss. She keeps the energy high on the acoustic guitar lead second song, “Little Inspiration.” In an odd way, the song feels like a Jack Johnson track with a stronger vocal presence. The sweet way in which she brings the verse in, in a very straightforward way while using backing vocals to add to the depth is an impressive move. Though the song is pretty much a straight ahead folk pop song, it works and just brings more to the already well crafted album.
Usually when an artist slows things down, I forward on to the next track. However, with the strength of her voice, and just a piano and a few stringed instruments; Inzi captivates you with the third song, “Lying Riot.” The song has that kind of “sad part of a movie” feel, while still holding your attention and tugging at your emotions. The following track however brings back the upbeat side of things, on “50.” Using an almost distorted piano, drums, and varying backing vocals; the singer belts out one of the many stand out tracks of the ten offered. Again, the almost natural way in which she uses her voice to have a kind of auto tune effect is insane. The way that her vocals can go from high to low, fast to slow, and everywhere in between is something like you might not have heard before. The same could be said about the power pop sound of “Hollow Symphony.” It doesn’t take long to realize that having the right musicians in place on the album easily pays off. There’s even a quick burst of pedal steel that adds a new component to the song, while the backing vocals give the track a more adult feel for something that’s not meant for an older audience. It’s quickly apparent as to why it was the lead single off of the album.
Though it should be noted, the strong suit of this artist is when she takes on a track at a half beat slower than that of the power pop speed; the sixth track, “Inevitable” feels like it could easily be a single that’s ready for something greater. The way in which she uses the higher pitch of her young voice coupled with the use of stringed instruments and piano brings forth a deep emotion that the quicker tracks can’t provide. In a note or two, you can’t help but notice the sheer power a person can have in their voice when things are slowed down. This is ever present on the seventh song, “One Man Show.” There’s a secondary vocal track that plays just beneath Inzi’s voice that adds to the track while it gains momentum with each and every verse. Though the song is basically a pop structure, the way the backing band brings multiple instruments and varying vocals to the mix makes the song come off as so much more than any typical pop song. Things stay on the slower side of things with the folky sounding “Star Of The Evening,” where you get to experience more of the singer’s vocal talents. Though the hook filled song that follows, “Vanity Fair” has a slower opening, the song quickly picks up pace while doubling vocals are added to the chorus that sticks in your head on the first listen.
The album gets finished off with the title track, “Exist,” where she engages in a different instrumentation unlike any other song on the release. There’s a mix of bells and a bass guitar that meanders before a guitar and a thundering drum track find their way onto the song. It’s one of the best album closers I’ve ever heard, where Inzi finds a way to change things up while keeping her initial sound intact. With moments that almost echo a song from Coldplay, the longest track on the album finds a way to stay with you well after you hear it. The end result, is an album that I was shocked that I hadn’t heard about when it was released. The pop elements infused with the incredibly strong vocals were really something that I could easily see gaining traction and actually finding its way on a much larger plane. You can grab your own copy of “Exist” and see Inzi’s vocal strengths for yourself, when she performs on July 7th at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck. The 21 & up show has doors at 7:30 and tickets between $15.00 and $17.00.