Zee Avi Ghostbird

Zee Avi Ghostbird
Jack Johnson and Zee Avi are known for island-inspired strumming. Thankfully, when Johnson signed the Borneo singer-songwriter to his Brushfire label, he wasn't looking for a female reflection of himself. Avi's debut hinted at musical experimentation, but sophomore LP Ghostbirds finds her straddling many genres, as if trying them on for size in an effort to refine a personal sound. That or she's more innovative and playful in her approach than any of us predicted. For instance, "31 Days" is a dusty, countrified jazz number, "The Book of Morris Johnson" leans heavily on indie pop and "Concrete Walls" gets its groove on with the help of turntablist Cut Chemist. On the bass-anchored "Madness," Avi shares a duet with a bluesy trumpet, harkening back to Peggy Lee. Even the reggae-informed "Roll Your Head in the Sun" doesn't escape the inclusion of spirited trumpet and electric piano. If anyone thought she was another jazz-inflected, ukulele playing Norah Jones derivative, her cover of Morrissey's "First of the Gang to Die" on her debut certainly dispelled such thoughts. Although there's no jaw-dropping parallel track on Ghostbird to win over fence sitters, Zee Avi's sophomore effort is good enough to retain the fan base she's already amassed. (Brushfire)