I can’t say that the urban genre has ever held much appeal for me. The verisimilitude that comes with mediocrity too often reduces the music to a mere background annoyance and expectations are reduced accordingly. The question in my mind, therefore, was whether “Stardust” by Zanya Laurence would just be more of the same.
It is perhaps unusual that there isn’t a song that could really be described as a single in these fifteen songs. In fact, it would seem that “Stardust” is designed more as an album as an entity than a collection of songs with the songs flowing into each other to advance the concept. Conceptually therefore, this album is more in line with the more progressive examples of the genre – En Vogue’s “Masterpiece Theatre” – and perhaps even seventies soul – Marie Queenie Lyons’ “Soul Fever”, for example – but this is today and the resulting message is consequently rather different. You can sense the conflict that is the very sign of our times with both alienation, in “Some Days”, and ambition, in “Keep Pushin’ On” presented as parallels to each other with Ms. Laurence’s relaxed, jazz inflected, voice neatly stepping between urban and urbane as the song, and her purpose, dictates.
Zanya Laurence has made her album rather more thoughtful and reflective than your average urban album which should, if there is any justice, find her new friends outside the owners of air-conditioned SUVs and perhaps even amongst those who have been searching for soul in the music of today. So, does that make “Stardust” music for those late nights when thought has priority over action? Perhaps. Is it more of the same? Fortunately not.