We live in challenging times. Economic, social and political forces in every part of our interconnected globe are triggering an unprecedented transformation in the way we govern, the way we do business, the way we interact and the way we live. For many of us, the challenges can be overwhelming, and perhaps even a bit frightening. For many of us, it’s time for a break.
Zap Mama has a plan. This multicultural musical entity led by Afropean vocalist and songwriter Marie Daulne is sending everyone on vacation, and the first and only item on the itinerary is ReCreation (HUCD 3159), their new album set for worldwide release on May 26, 2009, on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group.
In addition to a rhythm section rooted in a rich Brazilian vibe, ReCreation also boasts a guest list of high-profile performers including Bilal, G. Love, actor Vincent Cassel and several others. The album offers everything the title suggests – a time to MAKE A BREAK a time to RENEW ,TO party, a time to play . “That moment when you are relaxing and enjoying yourself,” says Daulne, “is the perfect moment to create a new person within yourself – to heal yourself and let go of all the negative aspects of your life. In those times when you relax, you recreate yourself.”
For Daulne, the process started in Rio de Janeiro in May 2008, almost by accident. She traveled there from her home in Brussels, Belgium, to record a single track with the help of Cassel, her longtime friend. Making an entire album was nowhere in the original plan. “When I arrived in Brazil, I was hit with an explosion of inspiration,” she says. “Everything started to happen. There was the beach and the music and the sounds and the vibe all around me. Even the language was inspiring. It was then that I said, ‘Okay, I’m ready to make a new album.'”
Thus, one song became thirteen. The rhythm tracks were recorded in Brazil, vocals recorded in Belgium ,NEW YORK ,BOSTON and final mixing done in Los Angeles – all over the course of the summer and fall of 2008, with a string of summer tour dates in the midst of it all. Despite the pace, though, the process was too exhilarating and inspiring to be considered strenuous, says Daulne.
ReCreation gets under way with the title track, a brief introduction that features vocals by Daulne’s 15-year-old daughter, Kesia Quental Daulne. “She has the pure voice of a teenager who is still IN BETWWEN naÃ”vITY AND “CLAIRVYANCE” about life and the world,” she says. “And yet, at the same time, she is already starting the process of becoming an adult.
The upbeat and uptempo “Singing Sisters” is a reunion of Daulne with vocalists Sylvie Nawasadio and Sabine Kabongo – members of Zap Mama’s original a cappella lineup in the early 1990s. “Sabine and Sylvie and I sang together on the first Zap Mama album,” says Daulne. “That was the first trio to create the original sound of Zap Mama. I started my career with these two women, and I still think of them as sisters.”
Easygoing and melodic, “The Way You Are” is a duet with Bilal that examines romantic love, grownup-style. “It’s not about falling in love, the way you do when you’re a teenager” says Daulne. “It’s about standing in love – sharing affection with someone but still being responsible for your own emotions.”
“Paroles, Paroles,” a duet recorded with Cassel in Brazil, is the track that launched the entire album. Originally written and recorded in the early 1970s, this is an Italian pop song (translated here to French) that Daulne remembers from her childhood in Brussels. The man in the song is attempting to charm the woman with empty compliments, but the woman dismisses it all as just words, words (“…paroles, paroles…”). “He is using sweet talk,” Daulne explains. “But she says, ‘All your words, all your talking, sounds like chocolates and sweets that are consumed so quickly. I cannot trust you, because your words sound like candy.'”
Cassel reappears in “Non, Non, Non,” a different take on the inevitable tension between the sexes. “This is a song about flirting,” she says. “The man is saying, ‘Will you stay with me?’ and the woman says, ‘No, no, no…’ She wants to go with him, but he really doesn’t want her to say yes. But he keeps asking her, ‘Stay with me, stay a little longer.’ It’s about the flirtation with things that are forbidden.”
Daulne shares vocals with G. Love on the aching and tense “Drifting,” a story of what happens to a relationship when a man – a musician in this case – spends much of his time on the road. “This song was born in the middle of the night,” Daulne recalls. “I woke up and I had this melody in my head. Everything was there – the melody, the beat, everything. It was not me who was composing. The song was given to me by some god of music. I just executed the order.”
The album closes with the Afro-Caribbean “Chill Out,” a song about a journey that has come to an end. Daulne already expects the song to take on a life of its own when she takes it on tour. “When we perform it live, it will be beautiful,” she says. “I’m going to invite people to dance. When people come to a Zap Mama concert, they will learn how to dance.”
The time to dance eclipses the time to mourn. Daulne acknowledges that Zap Mama’s previous album, Supermoon (2007), was crafted with an undercurrent of sadness at the death of a close friend shortly before recording began, but ReCreation represents a new day – and a happier one, at that. “Sadness is a part of life,” she acknowledges, “but this new record is about the joy that comes with being reborn. Even if you can’t go on a holiday, you can listen to this album and feel renewed. This is how I want people to feel.”
Hit the play button. Make a change. Enjoy some ReCreation.
ZAP MAMA TOUR DATES
5/27/2009 Joe’s Pub, New York, NY
5/28/2009 Joe’s Pub, New York, NY
5/29/2009 Joe’s Pub, New York, NY
6/17/2009 El Rey, Los Angeles, CA
6/18/2009 Bimbo’s, San Francisco, CA
6/19/2009 Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, Boonville, CA
6/20/2009 Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR
6/21/2009 Triple Door, Seattle, WA
7/5/2009 Essence Music Festival, New Orleans, LA