Lady Zamar understands the assignment. She knew precisely what was expected and delivered exquisitely on every front…
By Yinoluwa Olowofoyeku
The Tembisa-born singer and songwriter, Lady Zamar, is known for incorporating strong House influences in her songs and delivering them in English to appeal to a wider audience. She has garnered acclaim for her lovely voice, and was invited to serve as a guest judge on Idols South Africa in 2019.
At this juncture in her career, Lady Zamar is something of a veteran in the South African House scene. With her recent return to the public consciousness following her 2019 album, Monarch, she presents us with a new EP titled Royal Flush.
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The EP is ushered in by the rhythmic percussions and deep drums of “Tonight,” a sombre reflection on love, disappointment, and a broken heart. “Tonight is one of those nights again, My heart, a thousand pieces of pain,” she sings in a soft, emotive tone. Her voice is instantly captivating. It is subtle and comes across very clearly and sweetly in the mix. Her harmonies layer beautifully and fill the chorus with a silky warmth that melts directly into the listener’s ears. She drapes these sensuous vocals over a fittingly emotional instrumental, comprised of rich pad chords and driven by the steady drums.
The lyrics are filled with the pain her voice is able to carry across. “For days and days I’ve searched for you in vain, This dryness, my decayed feelings,” she beckons solemnly. And then characteristic Amapiano log drums kick in to add a groovy element to the song and paint some positivity into it as Lady Zamar meanders skillfully along . The song is brilliantly put together, and its lengthy 6-minute runtime is barely felt.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the second song, “All (I Want),” which was released as a lead single preceding the EP. The instrumental leans towards House, featuring sparse piano chords over a foundation of synth plucks and deep basses. The drums imbue the track with a contagious bounce that gets the head bobbing. The track is let down by Lady Zamar herself. While her voice and harmonies are still an inherent plus, she misuses them on very elementary melodies. There are very few passages that maximise the beauty of her voice. This is further worsened by the lethargy of the lyricism.
The song intends to speak about wanting the best things from life, but the lyrics put this across in a very basic and almost juvenile manner, not even following a discernible rhyme scheme in places. “I want the house and the job that I’ve always dreamed about, Go with my friends around the world, I want to ski and play with snow…Drive a G-Wagon, a drop top…” The saving grace here is that the lyrical simplicity works better as the mantra-like chorus.
“Never Die” resurrects things a bit, beginning in typical Amapiano fashion; with rattling shakers and steady percussions. A bright pop guitar progression adds a unique, cheerful flavour to the song’s direction. A deep bass rounds off the instrumental and provides a delightful contrast to the softness and earnestness of the vocal delivery. The song is a hopeful anthem centred on a strong love that will always live on. “You’ve been the one that I desire, You’ll be the one for the rest of my life, I know that you will never die in my heart, Your love will never die,” she promises her lover with kindness and tenderness in her voice. The chorus of the song balances sweetness and liveliness as the signature log drums and punchy basses swim around twinkling synths and Lady Zamar’s glistening vocals.
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The EP closes with “Find Me Now,” a track that seems to sit right on the fence between Amapiano and House. Log drums, droning pads, shimmering mallets and pulsating synths provide the Amapiano flavour. Simultaneously, bouncy bass plucks, a measured drum pattern and lustrous hi-hats provide the House seasoning. The elements are masterfully balanced together, forming an instrumental that tows the line and pays equal reverence to both genres. However, Lady Zamar’s vocal patterns tilt more towards the House camp. She chooses buttery melodies that play well with the sounds established in the instrumental. The lyrics are straightforward but effective. “Never giving you up! I’ve gotta wait a while for love to come find me now… You’re the one that I want, come find me now.”
The simplicity of the lyrics makes them catchy and easy to remember. Coupled with the memorable melodies and sleek harmonies, this song possesses serious earworm potential. It went straight to my playlist and spent a significant amount of time on replay while I danced in front of the mirror. That is high praise for any House song. I can’t think of a better way the EP could have ended.
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Royal Flush is an ideally solid House EP. The runtime is very generous for 4 songs, but that is to be expected with House, as the songs are expected to play out in a steady, trance-like manner. The instrumentals are all sonically interesting, providing little twists of flavour and pops of colour that keep things fresh in a genre that has a tendency to run a bit stale when improperly done. The major strength of the EP is Lady Zamar’s voice. It is crisp and sweet in a way that makes her very pleasurable to listen to. She augments this strength with her melodic dexterity.
While Zamar doesn’t hit any outrageous notes or gymnastic runs, the control and clarity of her vocals is impressive. This is also indicative of the abilities of the audio engineers. The mixing and engineering are stellar across the board. The lyricism on display is not astronomical, but it also doesn’t have to be. It delivers as expected on all but one song. Lady Zamar understands the assignment. She knew precisely what was expected and delivered exquisitely on every front. I will definitely be looking forward to more of her work.
Lyricism – 1
Tracklisting – 1
Sound Engineering – 1.8
Vocalisation – 1.5
Listening Experience – 1.2
Rating – 6.5/10
Yinoluwa “Yinoluu” Olowofoyeku is a multi-disciplinary artist and creative who finds expression in various media.