ZONA; Peace, Peace, Love & Understanding (70×7 Records)

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Zona are an L.A–based soulful house duo, (Dimitri Craven and Jerry Andrew) and they began to turn heads back in 2013 with their ultra-optimistic ‘I Am Beautiful’. It was based around ‘I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun’ and featured a sensual laid back vocal from Valerie Moise and tighter than tight beats from heavyweight percussionist Greg Velasquez.

Now three years later, Zona deliver their debut album – essentially a collection of their singles before and after ‘I Am Beautiful’. That particular tune still stands out and Ms Moise is also outstanding on ‘Time’ and ‘Never Forget You’ on which she’s joined by Greg Brown. Great vibes on this one too!

The other featured vocalists include Chezere Brathwaite (the Roots backing vocalist) who fronts the rumbling ‘Love To Love You’, Angela McGary who’s on the LP’s title cut, ‘Happy’ and ‘It’s Alright’, and Gospel singers Wade Chandler and Chellena Black who bring proper testifying to ‘Love Of My Life’ and ‘Jesus Is’ respectively.

Soulful house heads may well have many of these tunes already on singles, but presented en masse, like this, they offer a different perspective on the Zona boys. Clearly they know not just how to craft classy dance tunes with a proper soulful undertow but they also understand, that for music to truly connect it needs to have a degree of humanity and optimism; Dimitri and Jerry, it seems , have plenty of both and it shines through on ‘Peace, Love & Understanding’

(BB) 3/5