Graziella Schazad has me speechless and in a wave of goosebumps. Her album, Feel Who I Am, which was released the other week has managed, for me, to do something incredible in the sunset of 2010: it has emerged as the album of my year. There have been incredibly beautiful albums this year, but Feel Who I am is a body of work which I've yet to see replicated elsewhere.
Everything is written by the lady herself with the assistance of the likes of Chris Braide (Kylie), and Christian Ballard (Dawn Joseph, Nate James). Released in Germany, the best way I can describe this album is if Kylie released a sequel to Impossible Princess with Steve Anderson, Chris Masterson and the likes in 2010. Fans of acoustic pop music will adore this record. And, if I can return to Kylie Minogue once more...if you're aware of her b-sides Ocean Blue & The Good Life then you've got this album in one.
I love Maria Mena. I love Paloma Faith. I love Jennie Abrahamson. I love them all. But it's Graziella's album that has managed to strike deep in the heart. The twenty seven year old singer-songwriter was born in Berlin to a Polish mother and an Afghan father. Graziella Schazad started playing the guitar at the age of 3 and the violin at the age of 4. When she was nine years old her mother finally bought her the longed-for piano and she started taking lessons.
In 1995 she became an external student at the Hanns Eisler Conservatory of Music and studied classical violin as well as classical piano. When she turned thirteen she started writing her first songs and, ever since has put every painful as well as joyous experience into one of her very personal but yet easily accessible songs. She essentially writes addictive torch songs with the assistance of her violin.
She mixes folk with catchy pop tunage of a classic swing rhythm (Look At Me). Then in My Enemy she unleashes a song that becomes an almost dancefloor-twinged epic with a bad-ass attitude strut. She's never kooky for the sake of kookiness but puts melody and music at the very core of her album. In Miracle, she produces a delicate love song that wouldn't go amiss on a future- and very good moment in a - Kate Bush album. Whenever there's a low moment (Leave Me Alone) it is followed by an upper (Everybody) which is nothing short of a country re-writing of Kool and the Gang's Celebration.
Graziella writes from the lungs and up. You hear this in her cover of A-Ha's Take On Me. The eighties' classic has been covered so many times that it becomes almost an automatic reflex to roll the eyes when you hear its opening notes. But Graziella gets away with it. And re-constructs it as her own always mindful that covering the song is immensly clichéd these days. She re-produces it with ease and grace.
The album is absolutely graceful, you see. For me, it is a soundtrack to a beautiful sunny day along the river or the heath with jam, scones and fish'n'chips along the seaside promenade. Come rain or sunshine, play Picture In a Puzzle and you'll understand.