Review: “Look No Further” by Rozalla (CD, 1995)

Today’s POP RESCUE from a future unknown, is the 1995 third album Look No Further by Zimbabwean singer Rozalla. Should you Look No Further than this album, or will you wish Everybody was Free to escape? Read on…

Rozalla - Look No Further (1995) album cover
Rozalla – Look No Further (1995) album

The album opens with the gentle percussion of lead single I Love Music, before giving way to Rozalla’s big vocals. The track soon bounces into the chorus with a wave of house piano, synths, and brass. Rozalla is joined by some really nice backing vocals too, which helps to add some more power to her rich vocals. The track is a nice and easy pop song, and previously a hit for The O’Jays in 1975. It gave Rozalla a moderate #18 UK hit, and was featured in the Al Pacino and Sean Penn film Carlito’s Way.

Third single You Never Love The Same Way Twice follows this and this track has a bit more energy about it thanks to some catchy pop lyrics that shine in the chorus. Again, this track bounces along perfectly thanks to the piano and 90’s beat, and could easily be mistaken as having come from the Stock/Aitken/Waterman stable, when actually it comes from the co-pen of legendary songwriter Rick Nowels. Rozalla delivers the vocals with ease throughout. The track gave her another moderate hit at #16 in the UK, but really deserved to have got higher.

Next is second single This Time I Found Love and this feels like it leans back to her previous hits in style (mostly Everybody’s Free). There’s a wonderful bass line that throbs along with the bass drum. A synth gently beeps in the background underneath a house piano melody. There’s plenty of wonderful vocal samples too, again reminding us of her earlier hits. It’s a nice sound, but weaker than the two previous songs. The UK public agreed somewhat, and it stalled at #33 in the singles chart.

That’s followed by Baby, which is loaded with more piano, and it is soon joined by Rozalla on the mic and lovely handclap and simple beat. The track is really nice and upbeat, although Rozalla does get some really low register vocals that don’t really use her vocal power to it’s full potential. When released as the fourth single, it reached #26 in the UK.

Titular track Look No Further follows this, opening at a much slower tempo. Drifting vocals, brushed snares, and swooping strings usher in Rozalla. This time, we get to hear how she copes with slower songs, and the result is a wonderful song that grows perfectly. It’s unsurprising to find that songwriter Diane Warren is behind it. The track shows off her ability to hold her notes and sing this kind of song.

Some gentle humming and ‘bah-dah’ lead us into next song Do You Believe, and I’m reminded fairly swiftly of a slower version of Kym Sims Too Blind To See It thanks to the string section and basic melody. Why change a winning formula though – and the end result, alongside some wonderful vocals from Rozalla – again showing off her richness and range perfectly. A lovely mellow song.

I’m almost reminded musically of the perambulating intro to Kylie’s Where Is The Feeling?, when next song Work Me comes along. The track has DNA and Frankie Knuckles on the dials, ensuring that it’s bright and upbeat, but the strings, piano, and backing vocals really make this sound slick and warm. Rozalla’s vocals are bursting with power, but she feels a bit constrained – as we know that she can let rip, and just a bit more reverb would have helped. Either way, it’s a great little foot-tapper.

A piano teases along into If Love Is A Dream, as an almost heart-beat bass drum brings us to some soft whisperings, then joined by a deliciously sounding shuffling beat. It’s a gentle track – musically and vocally, and that fits with the dream theme of the song.

All That I Need is next, and gives us a tender heartfelt ballad. This is Mariah Carey territory, and to be honest, Rozalla is up there with the delivery. Of course, the trademark MC high notes aren’t there, but Rozalla does get to soar alongside some wonderfully placed strings, brass, and backing vocalists.

It’s back to pumping dance music again for Love Work (rather oddly titled out of context). Racing beats, and charging synths flow throughout, and there are hints again of Everybody’s Free once more. Rozalla gets some big notes to hit here, and she strikes them every time, despite some parts of the songs sounding like there’s simply not enough time to deliver the lyrics. It’s a refreshing reminder of where she has been.

We’re back to slick mid-tempo songs again for I Can’t Wait. It’s another rich and warm sounding track, and one that I think would have not have stood out over on an Eternal album. Despite the song being about not being able to wait, this track takes its time, with plenty of space for Rozalla’s vocals to make the most of its mellow moments.

That leads on to Losing My Religion, a cover of the hit by R.E.M. This was the fifth and final single, and is a most unexpected cover choice for Rozalla. However, listening to how it’s been done as a dance, you can hear how it could almost work but it falls down. A thumping bass drum, gurgling synths join in. Sadly, once the 90’s house piano kicks in, it dates the song. Rozalla’s vocals again sound a bit constrained, and the vocal power doesn’t quite meet the energy that’s alluded to the plethora of synths. It did not chart in the UK, and probably rightly so.

We’re now into three remixes at the end of the album and first up is I Love Music (Roger’s Uplifting Club Mix), which manages to give the track a little bit more oomph, and takes her closer to her earlier dance hits sound. A radio edit of this could probably have got her closer to the top 10.

That’s followed by Baby (Love To Infinity’s Deep Love Mix) with Love To Infinity in control. The piano is luxurious here, and they’ve made the most of Rozalla’s warm vocals as they drop synths and a pumping bass drum over it. The ‘Round and around/Up and down’ lyrical sequence works really well here in the faster mix.

The album closes with You Never Love The Same Way Twice (K-Klass Klub Mix), with K-Klass on the dials. We’re dropped straight in on a bleeping synth and hard beats. It’s not long before vocal samples join in, and the building up of this 7m 11s remix begins. Layers of synths join in, before erupting into a wonderful mix.

Rozalla’s lead single ‘I Love Music’ from 1994.

Verdict

Over all, this album shows off Rozalla wonderfully. If your memories are of her delivering some roaring early 90’s dance tracks, then this album will be a contrast for you – there are some of those moments here but there is so much more of Rozalla to discover.

Rozalla gets to show off her vocal warmth, control, strength, and range throughout this album, and with the army of pop/dance royalty behind this album (Rick Nowels, Frankie Knuckles, DNA, Jellybean etc), this album feels like a gear change for her and her record company.

You Never Love The Same Way Twice is my favourite track here, but the singles were mostly also highlights. That is definitely with the exception of Losing My Religion, which really is the low point on the album and I’m left wondering why on Earth this track was included.

The album is full of nice songs, with a few brilliant tracks, and that one stinker. Give it a spin.

Rated 4 stars - You're missing a treat!
  • POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 4 / 5
  • 1995 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #138.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £3.30 from an eBay seller.

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