Vanessa Daou, 'Zipless'

Vanessa Daou, ‘Zipless’ (1995, MCA Records/Krasnow Entertainment)

Vanessa Daou’s Jazz an Pop make an exhilarating mix… Built on piano, synthesizers and Daou’s mesmerizing, Billie Holiday-like vocals, Zipless strikes an exquisite balance between pop and jazz by weaving together the strengths of both styles. … The music conjures up the cool mood of an urban nightscape.” TIME Magazine

“Combining elements of jazz, blues, and alternative, Vanessa Daou has emerged as one of the most musical and provocative vocalists on the pop scene.” KCRW

“Zipless is the poetry of Erica Jong set to music… a breathtaking trip that can barely contain its own sensuality.” All Music Guide

“Pleasure” and “pain”-two words that describe the process of gathering participants for our sex panel. … Once we assembled our seven fearless panelists-Andre Benjamin… Nona Hendryx… vibeologist Roy Ayers; Soopaman Luva Redman; Luke Campbell, ex-leader of 2 Live Crew and host of the TV program Luke’s Peep Show; saxophonist James Carter; and sultry vocalist Vanessa Daou…” VIBE

“We here at Slant Magazine believe that there aren’t enough lists. So we’ve decided to create another one. “Vital Pop” is a list of 50 of the most essential pop albums…” Slant Magazine

Setting poetry to music is no mean feat, and things get even riskier when the music is breezy dance pop and the poetry is erotic free verse. Undertaken with the participation of Erica Jong, who provides a languorous reading of her poem “Smoke,” Vanessa Daou’s Zipless–as in fuck, natch–(released last year by Daou and her husband-arranger-producer Peter Daou on their Lotus label and recently rereleased by MCA) manages to overcome these odds. Gently placing Jong’s poetry amid slinky rhythms and coolly coaxed melodies, Daou delivers the poetry with natural grace, accenting its inherent musicality while giving it an airy, sensual tunefulness. Peter Daou’s arrangements–an urbane house/hip-hop/jazz/pop hybrid–limns Vanessa’s musical shadows without obscuring them. The careful beauty with which Jong’s poetry conveys hunger and reverie only becomes more palpable drifting out of Daou’s mouth; her vocals clearly evoke the breathy gentility of Brazilian chanteuse Astrud Gilberto. It’s no musical masterpiece, but it is a strikingly successful artistic appropriation. She opens for Guru’s Jazzmatazz. Saturday, 11:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203. Theater Critic’s Choice, Chicago Reader

“Their current tribute/antidote to years of house and hip-hop-style production is Vanessa Daou’s new album, Zipless, on their own Lotus Records. Comprised of music she calls “sexual-intellectual”, Zipless is a swirling, erotic concept album of sung and spoken adaptations of Erica Jong’s poetry. … Zipless is utterly sublime – music that can boom across the biggest dancefloor, soothe an Upper East side soiree, or explicit boudoir chat notwithstanding, provide the sonic backdrop to a transcontinental cinematic drive in your parents’ car. This is crossover music in the best music-biz-ness sense of the word.” Richard Nixon, PAPER

“Think of the smoky torchiness of someone like Sade… Daou’s heavily breathed vocals invoke something else entirely that I can’t quite put into words, but most red-blooded guys (and more than a few gals) would get instantly. Gentlemen, forget those Luther Vandross and Marvin Gaye records. This is an eargasm to truly be appreciated.” GlenBoyd @ BlogCritics

“Daou’s breathy vocals are perfect for this and other songs, conveying an intimacy that perfectly matches the words. She could just as easily be lying in bed with a lover, singing her desires to them, as recording the song in a studio.”

“Daou’s rolling drum mixes and incisive lyrics defy categorization… Daou bounces between jazz and trance music, equalizing genres… Her voice can sound like Fiona Apple without the bitterness, and then turn breathy like an old-school diva. … This is sexy, volatile stuff.” Daily Bruin

“A friend once burst into my home and said “YOU MUST PLAY THIS CD NOW,” which made me groan a bit inside as she ran to my stereo. I expected to have to feign interest and approval. Instead I felt connected to Ms. Daou’s music instantaneously. Six years later I’m still playing this disc at least once a week. Close your eyes and imagine tasting chocolate for the first time. I advise you to beware as this very unique sound and mood is the aural equivalent of superglue to the ear. If you’ve ever had an evening with a special person where you thought you’d literally die if you didn’t kiss them, and you finally did, and it was everything you thought it would be, this is what it sounded like. “Long Tunnel of Wanting You” is that first kiss, and one of the most perfect three and a half minutes of music I’ve ever heard. The musicianship on every cut is brilliant, this band can play, it’s like jazz from a foggy, sensual Twilight Zone. This masterpiece swings, it haunts and it exhilarates. A treasure. Special praise must go to Peter Daou for the clean, understated, intimate production. Got a new lover you want to keep? Forget the roses, give them this CD, and then expect to go places with them you’ve never gone…” David S. Jenkins @


TIME Magazine


WIREPAPER MagazineTheater Critic's Choice, Chicago Reader

New York Magazine

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