Izzy Bizu’s debut full length, A Moment of Madness, comes three years on the heels of her breakout. That timespan would be the life-and-death cycle for thousands of pop artists, but Bizu has emerged with a truly first-rate modern throwback album, a collection of sentimental summery soul that recalls Amy Winehouse, albeit with fewer demons. “White Tiger”, the windswept, rapturous, at times incomprehensible lead single, is still first-rate fodder for practicing your falsetto on the highway, but it’s actually one of the weaker tracks here.
Nominated for the 2016 Brits Critics’ Choice and BBC Sound Of polls, Isobel Beardshaw – as Bizu was before launching her career, aged 16, in the group SoundGirl – is angling for the jazz/soul space inhabited by Amy Winehouse and Lianne La Havas. She is both helped and hindered by her unflagging sunniness: whether a song calls for the hiccupy sweetness that is her vocal calling card, or clawing intensity, it’s always underscored by her innate optimism. This makes for a very agreeable summer cocktail – aptly, it was originally scheduled for a June release – but comes up short if you prefer breeziness to be sometimes clouded by messier emotions.
Despite being in the BBC’s Sound of 2016 poll, there’s something quite mid-00s about 22-year-old Izzy Bizu and her jazz-inflected pop. There are moments on her debut album that recall Amy Winehouse’s Frank with the edges smoothed out (Lost Paradise in particular), while the retro stylings of Adam & Eve sounds like a more relaxed Duffy. Mad Behaviour’s broad, sweeping emotion, meanwhile, would have nestled perfectly on the Bridget Jones soundtrack.
Star-in-the-making Izzy Bizu officially arrives with debut LP, ‘A Moment of Madness’. The album opens with would-be single after would-be single, drawing on the genealogy of artists as disparate as Ella Fitzgerald, Amy Winehouse and early Lily Allen. It’s a head-spinning first half – an album that sounds perfectly relentless, even a little crazy.